MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Germany has submitted a legal opinion concerning draft amendments to the EU Gas Directive to the European Commission, stating that the commission’s attempt to acquire control over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project contradicts European and international law, Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper reported, citing the relevant document.
In November 2017, the European Commission proposed extending EU energy rules to gas pipelines from third countries to Europe. In particular, the Commission seeks the right to demand a separation of gas sales and pipeline operating activities, as well as third-party access to a pipeline. It is believed that the amendments in question mainly target Nord Stream 2, under which Russian natural gas would be brought to Europe via the Baltic Sea and a hub in Germany.
Meanwhile, Germany’s legal opinion, as quoted by the newspaper, rejected the amendments proposed by the European Commission in the third revision. According to the document, they are ultimately aimed at regulating only one infrastructure project, while envisaging exceptions for the others.
The document went on to note that the European Commission had failed to provide any explanations or clear arguments that would show how the proposed changes could contribute to the goals of the energy union.
The amendments in question, the document maintains, are compatible with neither European nor international law.
Even if the amendments are adopted before the completion of the Nord Stream 2 construction, the European Union will still have to make an exception for the project since the investment decision on its construction was made much earlier, and the financing of the project has begun, according to Germany.
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Finally, Germany demanded that the EU legal service provided a written opinion on the amendments, because they, according to the document, create a conflict of law by establishing prerequisites for the European Commission to obtain exclusive powers in regulating domestic gas market, while until now intergovernmental agreements have been in the competence of individual EU countries.
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russian gas giant Gazprom and five European companies. It aims to deliver 55 billion cubic meters (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas annually to the European Union. The pipeline project has been welcomed by some countries in Europe and opposed by the others, who raise concerns over the alleged danger of Europe’s dependence on Russia and the subsequent diminished transit role of Ukraine.
Washington has been also strongly opposing the project. In this regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced the belief that US leader Donald Trump is seeking to force Russia out of the European energy market so that the United States could sell more liquefied natural gas to Europe. Moscow has also reiterated that the pipeline is a purely commercial project.