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EU faces Nord Stream 2 hurdle

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World Pipelines,

News sources have reported that the European Union (EU) no longer has legal grounds to block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The European Commission has established that the third internal energy market package is not applicable to offshore pipelines, including Nord Stream 2, according to TASS.

Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between Gazprom, Engie, OMV AG, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper and Wintershall. The two string pipeline has a total capacity of 55 billion m3/y of gas and runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

The EU has been trying to halt the Nord Stream 2 project amidst pressure from Poland and the Baltic States, who believe that the pipeline will increase dependence on Russian gas.

Commenting on a letter from the Commission to the Energy Ministers of Sweden and Denmark, dated 28 March, Nord Stream 2 AG – the company behind the project – said: “After carefully studying the content of this response to a request for an assessment of our project, we find it important that the European Commission confirmed that ‘it is the responsibility and competence of the Member States to authorise or certify individual pipeline projects.”

The letter from Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, an energy spokeswoman at the Commission, stated: “We don’t like Nord Stream 2 politically.”

“This being said, there are no legal grounds for the Commission to oppose Nord Stream 2 […] because [EU] rules do not apply to the offshore part of the pipeline,” she added.

However, according to Reuters, the letter also invited all EU states to voice their concerns and clarify their stances to, in turn, negotiate an agreement with Moscow on the pipeline. “It is our view that a specific legal regime would need to be established for the offshore section, and that such specific legal regime should include some fundamental principles stemming from EU energy law," the letter reportedly stated.

TASS reported that Nord Stream 2 AG has confirmed the project’s full compliance with the existing legal framework consisting of EU and National law, as well as intergovernmental conventions.

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