If media information is confirmed, Trump will propose a deal to Europe that can strike Nord Stream 2 and help improve transatlantic relations, mainly in trade – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of BiznesAlert.pl.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the US president is offering Germany to return to talks on the trade with the European Union in exchange for abandoning the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The Americans also criticize the idea of Germany-Ukraine-Russia talks on the conditions of gas supplies through Ukrainian territory after launch deliveries by a new bus bypassing them.
American diplomacy has intensified efforts to convince Europeans that Nord Stream 2 should be abandoned. The US warns that the project is threatening to security and can be sanctioned. The withdrawal from Nord Stream 2 is to be the price to avoid a trade war. Trump also promises to return to discussions about the US-EU trade system as TTIP.
Deputy Secretary of State for energy diplomacy Sandra Oudkirk told Bloomberg that this project would increase Europe’s dependence on gas from Russia and allow Russians to install eavesdropping equipment on the bottom of the Baltic.
Meanwhile, the European Union wants to talk with the US about how European companies can be protected from sanctions that Americans want to impose on Iran. It calls for talks on this topic and on steel and aluminum tariffs that may strike European companies.
The European companies Shell, Wintershall, Uniper, OMV and Engie became financial partners of Nord Stream 2, which is carried out by a company of the same name, which belongs entirely to Gazprom.
During a conversation with journalists in Berlin, a representative of the State Department repeated that according to the law adopted in August 2017, the Nord Stream 2 project may be subject to US sanctions if the president decides so. The CAATSA regulation assumes that Donald Trump may sanction entities involved in import gas pipelines with a defined share of Russian companies. – Any such project, and there are many pipeline projects in the world that potentially fall into this right, will be associated with an increased risk of sanctions – said Oudkirk quoted by Western agencies.
The President of the United States was to say to Chancellor Angela Merkel in April that she should abandon Nord Stream 2, and in return the Americans will start new talks on the trade with Europe. In the past, Donald Trump withdrew the US from talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This information appeared on the eve of Merkel’s visit to Sochi scheduled for 18 May.
Deputy US Secretary of State criticized the postulate to conduct negotiations on the conditions for maintaining a minimum level of transmission through the territory of Ukraine, despite the construction of Nord Stream 2. In this way, the Ukrainian budget would stabilize despite losing some of the profits from the transmission of Russian gas. According to the Oudkirk, guarantees of this kind are not “enforceable”.
Americans proposing to return to talks on economic integration with Europe in exchange for abandoning Nord Stream 2 may persuade Europeans to abandon their dependence on Russia with the use of economic tools. It is worth remembering that an important element of the TTIP abandoned by Trump was the chapter devoted to energy, for example cooperation in the export of liquefied gas. Despite the contentious aspects, the US and the European Union agreed that its development would support Europe’s energy security. The import of liquefied gas for the purpose of diversification is an element of the Energy Strategy of the European Union and the postulate of the Energy Union.
The TTIP challenge was the climate agenda, of which President Barack Obama was a supporter, but Trump was critical. The US-EU Energy Council was supposed to deal with, inter alia, measures for the “abandonment of fossil fuels”, which is in contradiction with the interest of hydrocarbon companies in the USA, listened to by the current White House tenant. It is not known whether the new agreement could include such an agenda and would a compromise be made in favor of Europeans forcing ambitious climate policies.
However, the agreement itself, which would also include measures to protect Europe’s economic interests against sanctions against Iran and the US customs policy in the field of aluminum and steel, could be used to re-establish the transatlantic economic framework. If the price was to be the abandonment of the gas pipeline project, which brings increasing political costs, Germany may be persuaded to do so. If not, disputes in Europe will increase in strength. Trump’s idea is in line with the Polish Three Seas concept, which may be of more interest to the countries of the region due to, inter alia, the prospect of LNG import from the USA.