France, Germany compromise on Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

France, Germany compromise on Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

"The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will heighten Europe's susceptibility to Russia's energy blackmail tactics".

But Paris and Berlin now agree that chief responsibility lies with Germany, the "territory and territorial sea of the member state where the first interconnection point is located", according to a text seen by AFP.

The draft compromise addressed these concerns, saying: "We consider a [gas rules] directive in this spirit indispensable for a fruitful discussion on the future gas transit through Ukraine".

German officials were keen Friday to downplay suggestions of a Franco-German rift, arguing that Paris and Berlin have a strong relationship that allows them to resolve differences.

However, the project faces opposition from the United States and many countries in Eastern and Central Europe, because it would avoid existing gas pipelines through Ukraine and increase Europe's energy dependence on Russian Federation.

Romania, current holder of the rotating EU presidency, said it "was given the mandate... to enter negotiations with the European Parliament on the amendment of the EU gas directive".

Today the European Union Council will vote on a directive meant to apply EU market rules to energy projects that start in a third country, like the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russian Federation. France's stance deprives Germany, which is seeking to veto the initiative, of needed support.

Speaking during a visit to Slovakia, Merkel said on February 7 that Nord Stream 2 would not make Germany dependent on Russian Federation for gas "if we diversify at the same time".

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The current European Union regulations do not apply to pipelines like Nord Stream 2 but if the amendments were adopted, Brussels would gain leverage over the project.

But a French government source had earlier told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that Paris might do it due to "strategic problems" with Russian Federation.

The vote, concerning the draft amendments to the EU Gas Directive, is slated to be held on February 8.

Construction has already begun, involving companies such as Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, Dutch-British Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV. "If the AFET report is adopted, for sure it would be symbolically important but it can not stop the implementation of Nord Stream-2 as the Parliament's approval (or lack thereof) is not needed", Yafimava said.

European Union capitals overcame differences on Friday over shared geopolitical concerns that the pipeline would deprive Ukraine of transit fees that are a lifeline of its economy by doubling the amount of gas that could be pumped under the Baltic Sea.

The European Commission has voiced criticism of the pipeline project as it runs counter to the aims of European energy independence.

Western firms invested in the project have so far each financed 600 million euros ($681.00 million) until year's end in what they say is a sign of faith that it will be continued, sources familiar with the matter said.

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