The leading candidate of the European People's Party (EPP), Manfred Weber (CSU), has vowed to block the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia if he becomes EU Commission President.
Weber’s campaign promise coincided with a fresh call for sanctions against German companies involved in the construction of the gas pipeline by several US senators.
German opposition parties meanwhile criticised Weber’s slavish pro-American attitude. The deputy SPD parliamentary group leader Matthias Miersch told the news agency dpa: “Anyone who challenges Nord Stream 2, make themselves dependent on American fracking gas or wants to revive nuclear power.”
Weber told Polish media that the pipeline project was not in the European interest even though Russian gas is much cheaper than American LNG. As head of the EU Commission, he said he would do everything in his power to prevent the implementation.
Bundestag Vice President Thomas Oppermann described Weber’s statements as “nonsense”. Germany will not become dependent on Russia because of the pipeline. “Conversely, it is true: Russia needs the proceeds from gas sales.” Overall, the German-Russian agreement is an economic relationship that stabilizes both benefits and relationships, he remarked on Twitter.
Weber has positioned himself against the federal government which sees in Nord Stream 2 a necessary measure to secure the natural gas supply to an energy-starved Germany. The pipeline will transport gas through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
Manfred Weber, EPP candidate. Photo supplied
Back in March, Weber said in an interview with the Polish newspaper Newsweek : “I am not the German candidate for the head of the European Commission, but a candidate of the EPP.” Poland and Ukraine are opponents of the project because the pipeline circumvents both countries depriving them of transit revenue.
Several US senators have now tabled a bill to sanction those involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The target of the economic sanctions will be directed against all companies working on the construction of the pipeline.
In addition, managing directors of these companies will no longer be able to apply a visa for the United States in the future. This may also affect the German company BASF, which co-finances the project through its subsidiary Wintershall.
In a letter, US Ambassador Richard Grenell to Germany has already threatened the company with a “significant sanction risk”.
In the past, US President Donald Trump has sharply criticized the project spanning from the Russian city of Vyborg to Lubmin near Greifswald in Germany.
The initiators of the new bill are Republicans Ted Cruz (Texas), John Barrasso (Wyoming), Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire).
On 11 January 2007, the Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry noted that alternative routes via the Baltic states or Poland might theoretically be shorter than the route across the Baltic Sea, and therefore cheaper. There were also calls from Sweden to consider rerouting the pipeline onto land, according to oil publication Rigzone.com.
Poland had proposed the construction of a second line of the Yamal–Europe pipeline, as well as the Amber pipeline through the Baltic states and Poland as land-based alternatives to the offshore pipeline, claiming that it would cost half as much as an underwater pipeline, would be shorter, and would have less environmental impact.
But Nord Stream AG has responded that the Baltic Sea would be the only route for the pipeline and it will not consider an overland alternative since it would mean paying for transit and would therefore not be a cheaper option.
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