France Joins U.S. in Questioning Gas Pipeline Backed by Merkel

Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron at France Armistice Day

France had said it would support European Union oversight of new offshore energy pipelines in a move that could have quashed the undersea pipeline plans between Russian Federation and Germany.

European Union leaders recently agreed to aspire to "strategic autonomy" in foreign policy and military terms, amid Franco-German plans for closer defence cooperation.

The draft compromise sought to tackle concerns over Ukraine saying: "We consider a (gas rules) directive in this spirit indispensable for a fruitful discussion on the future gas transit through Ukraine". "Yes, we are ready to support the Ukrainian Transit will continue, but under the terms we need".

The European Union executive wants to extend its internal energy market laws to offshore gas pipelines to have a say over the new gas link under the Baltic Sea from Russian Federation to Germany. So one could see the compromise draft as damage limitation exercise as although main threats, i.e. significant arbitrary cap on Nord Stream-2 utilisation, appear to have been alleviated, regulatory uncertainty and danger of litigation remains, Yafimava explained.

France is weighing up its options after listening to Eastern European concerns about Europe's energy dependence on Russian Federation.

Russian Federation has warned the European Union not to adopt tighter energy rules that could complicate plans to build a gas pipeline between Russian Federation and Germany under the Baltic Sea. At the same time, but it should be ensured that the completion of the 1200-kilometre long pipeline is not compromised.

The pipeline, owned by Russian state energy firm Gazprom, has been a focus of global attention since Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014. Therefore, the line should be built to the end.

More news: Russian-Ukrainian political operative was at Trump inauguration: filing

Eastern European countries like Poland and Ukraine have vehemently objected to the project because they say it specifically bypasses their territories.

Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, told New Europe that there has been a proposal agreed by France and Germany on which the vote on February 8 in favour of the amendment was conditioned.

The changes, which would regulate gas from third-party providers, could eventually make the project less profitable or even cost prohibitive.

Construction of Nord Stream 2 has already started and involves companies such as Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, Dutch-British Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV.

The EU executive wants a say over how Nord Stream 2 is used before its construction, which involves European companies, is completed.

Although Chancellor Merkel has always been a proponent of the pipeline, not everyone in Germany shares her enthusiasm. France's European Affairs Ministry has not commented on the issue.

German businesses have invested heavily in Nord Stream 2 and former Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder is running the project.

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