Is Germany abusing EU tools to defend Nord Stream 2? If yes, it is giving the anti-European forces a new argument against integration – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor in chief at BiznesAlert.pl.
German presidency marked by Nord Stream 2
Germany’s presidency in the EU reigntied the dispute over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The member states agreed on a compromise, whereby the EU is allowed to use the revised Gas Directive to protect itself against the contentious investment. The Directive imposes EU anti-trust regulations, the so-called Third Energy Package, on the pipe. In this context the US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 are an external intervention that was not consulted with European states. It caused resistance not only among countries that are involved with the contentious pipeline, but also among those, which are against an interference of this kind.
This is an opportunity for Germany to actively use its diplomatic skills at home and abroad. In Germany, the pro-Russian Klaus Ernst has defended NS2 at the Bundestag and demanded that Germany introduce counter-sanctions. Whereas abroad, Berlin is able to impact the EU agenda as it currently holds the presidency. In the end the Union did engage, and Joseph Borell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, announced that the European Commission was preparing measures to protect EU interests in the face of US sanctions against the contentious Nord Stream 2 project.
However, across the pond, Germans were caught red-handed. The Polish ambassador to the USA and Senator Ted Cruz have both denied Politico’s news that 24 out of the 27 EU states opposed US sanctions against the contentious Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. “[T]here’s an enormous amount of disinfo being peddled about Nord Stream 2. There’s campaign saying our Euro allies are suddenly in favor of Putin’s pipeline. And as I said yesterday it’s not going to work because that’s not true and our allies will just say so,” Senator Cruz tweeted. He co-authored the sanctions bill against Nord Stream 2.
He was commenting on the tweet by Poland’s ambassador to the US, Piotr Wilczek, who used the social platform to criticize Politico’s article, which was also discussed on our platform – BiznesAlert.pl. “Indeed, the @politico article is grossly misleading in stating that 24 MS criticise US sanctions on NS2,” he wrote. Estonia’s ambassador to the US, Jonatan Vseviov, also denied the news and said his country did not defend Nord Stream 2 against US sanctions. “Last week´s videoconference was not a demarche on behalf of the 24 participating countries,” he commented on the videoconference of EU ambassadors Politico had written about. Ukraine’s Naftogaz joined the discussion and reminded that in 2018-2019 the European Parliament declared Nord Stream 2 was a threat to EU’s energy security and that it should be stopped.
One could suspect that the videoconference of the ambassadors of EU member states organized with the US State Department under the patronage of the European External Action Service (EU diplomacy), was presented by someone to the media as the ambassadors’ initiative to defend Nord Stream 2. However, the only confirmed fact that reached the public opinion, was the news about a briefing in which Americans might have again warned the EU about upcoming sanctions. The statements of the ambassadors and Ted Cruz undermine the claim that ambassadors from EU states supported Nord Stream 2.
EU diplomacy in Germany’s cross hairs?
Does this mean Germans are leaking fake news to the media to defend Nord Stream 2 and are using EU’s diplomatic services to this end? It’s time for the EU diplomatic mission in Washington to dispel these doubts. It is worth reminding the letter US Senators sent to warn Germany against sanctions for participating in the Nord Stream 2 project, which leaked to the media. The Senators warned that any entities engaged in the construction of Nord Stream 2 would become the subject of the extended sanctions proposed by the Senate, the moment any of the ships that were working on completing the contentious gas pipeline sank the first pipe in the sea. The American politicians treated the letter as a formal notification, and called on the harbor in Germany’s Sassnitz to withdraw from any activities related to the construction of Nord Stream 2. They threatened that otherwise the port would face “potentially fatal” consequences, which would cut it off from profits made thanks to cooperation with US companies. The US intervention may indeed mean a blow to European businesses, especially Germany’s.
What is the future of the common energy policy?
However, it should be reiterated that the actions taken by the US are an answer to the support Nord Stream 2 has had in Europe. If Germany didn’t support the Russian project and didn’t use EU tools to do this, there would be no conflict with the US over the sanctions that are to stop the contentious investment. We should also answer the question whether the stronger EU states are allowed more, and whether Germany is indeed using its presidency to protect its particular interest, which is about propelling its green transition – Energiewende – with fuel from Nord Stream 2. Does Berlin protecting the contentious gas pipeline give it the right to expect solidarity from other EU states on other issues, such as climate policy? Berlin’s actions definitely offer room for speculation on the plans to use climate policy to promote gas from Nord Stream 2. They also fuel anti-European sentiments.