France splits from Germany over Nord Stream 2 pipeline

France said it will support EU oversight of the new Nord Stream 2 offshore energy pipelines. — AFP file pic
France said it will support EU oversight of the new Nord Stream 2 offshore energy pipelines. — AFP file pic

PARIS, Feb 7 — France said today it will support EU oversight of new offshore energy pipelines in a move that could cripple a controversial new link between Russia and Germany.

The move puts Paris at odds with Berlin which has championed the highly contested Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that is to run from Russia under the Baltic Sea to an end-point in Griefswald in Germany.

European member states are set to discuss extending EU gas market rules to offshore pipelines at a meeting in Brussels tomorrow, with Germany opposed to the move because of its potential impact on Nord Stream 2.

“France intends to support the adoption of this directive,” France’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “Work is continuing with our partners, in particular with Germany, on modifications that could be made to the text.”

Nord Stream 2 faces opposition from many countries in eastern and central Europe, the United States and particularly Ukraine because it risks increasing Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas.

Combined with the planned TurkStream pipeline across the Black Sea, Nord Stream 2 would mean Russia could also bypass Ukraine in providing gas to Europe, robbing Moscow’s new foe of transit fees and a major strategic asset.

“We are not for or against Nord Stream 2,” a French diplomatic source told AFP on condition of anonymity. “We are asking that there are guarantees for the security of Europe and for the security and stability of Ukraine.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far insisted that the pipeline is a “purely economic project” that will ensure cheaper, more reliable gas supplies.

Construction has already begun, involving companies such as Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper, Dutch-British Shell, France’s Engie and Austria’s OMV. — AFP

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