BRUSSELS, March 13. /TASS/. The European Parliament’s resolution on relations with Russia, which particularly calls for stopping the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, will not affect the project’s implementation and the measures the European Union has been taking to regulate it, a European diplomatic source told TASS on Wednesday.
"The European Parliament’s resolutions are recommendatory. The European Commission always takes them into account but it is not obliged to fulfill the requests and demands they contain for it makes independent decisions," the source said.
While speaking about the Nord Stream 2 project, the source pointed out that the process of amending the European Union’s Gas Directive - the legal basis for the project - was nearing completion. According to the source, the European Parliament is expected to adopt the amendments at a plenary session in late March or early April, which will make it possible to create a legal framework concerning cross-border subsea gas pipelines, including Nord Stream 2.
Amendments to the EU Gas Directive say that its major goal is to apply the Third Energy Package to subsea gas pipelines delivering gas to the European market. The Directive particularly requires creating an operator company independent from Russia’s Gazprom and reserve 50% of the pipeline’s capacity for transporting gas from other producers, which actually means a legal demand to halve the amount of gas supplied through the pipeline because there are no other producers that have the right to export Russian gas. During the discussions of these amendments, Germany managed to push a provision saying the country that a pipeline enters will decide whether to apply that norm to it.
Russian and European experts agree that the amended Gas Directive will not stop the construction and operation of Nord Stream 2 and is primarily aimed at reducing its cost-effectiveness.
On March 12, the European Parliament adopted a resolution "on the state of EU-Russia political relations," which says that Russia is no longer the EU’s strategic partner. In addition, the document says that "Nord Stream 2 reinforces EU dependency on Russian gas supplies, threatens the EU internal market and is not in line with EU energy policy, and therefore needs to be stopped."
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is scheduled to be put into operation in late 2019. Each of the pipeline’s two stretches will have a capacity of 27.5 bln cubic meters. The pipeline, set to run from the Russian coast along the Baltic Sea bed to the German shore, is expected to connect the Russian resource base with European customers. The total project cost of the Nord Stream 2 is estimated at 9.5 bln euro. Apart from Russia’s Gazprom, the project also involves German companies Uniper and Wintershall, Austrian OMV, French Engie and the British-Dutch Shell.
The gas pipeline will not cross transit countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and Poland.
Russia and Germany have many times stressed that Nord Stream 2 was only a commercial project and was not politically motivated. However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel mentioned some political factors related to the project’s implementation. According to her, gas transit through Ukraine should continue even after the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is built. Russian President Vladimir Putin said, in turn, that the project’s implementation did not imply the end of the Ukrainian gas transit if it proved economically feasible.