BRUSSELS, February 8. /TASS/. The political and legal structures of the European Commission (EC) are facing an intense controversy over application of the European energy market rules to the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, Politico newspaper wrote on Monday. According to a finding by the Commission’s legal arm mentioned in an internal memo seen by the newspaper, the EU energy market rules do not apply to a pipeline that does not touch the EU territory while the directorate general "sought the legal advice to determine whether a key element of EU gas legislation would apply to "offshore gas pipelines from third countries importing gas into the EU and in particular the Nord Stream 2 project."
"If the opinion of the Legal Service is applied, this would mean that the EU cannot claim any applicability of its energy legislation to any part of the Nord Stream 2," the Commission’s Directorate General of Energy wrote in a paper analyzing the answers from the legal department.
The Commission opposes the project, saying the pipeline undermines the EU’s gas diversification goals by increasing the bloc’s dependence on Russia.
The finding is also a blow for Nord Stream’s "political opponents in Washington and in many European capitals, particularly in the east, who argue Moscow’s plans to expand the pipeline to Germany would harm Ukraine, strengthen Russia’s energy grip on Europe, and threaten the EU’s flagship energy union project," Politico wrote.
The directorate’s 13-page undated document outlines the "technical/legal comments" of the department "including the concerns due to which the observations [from legal services] could not be shared," the newspaper wrote. "The document spells out the directorate’s search for a way around the legal finding so that the Commission would still have the instruments needed to stop Nord Stream 2. It aims to undermine the lawyers’ arguments and offers legal solutions for applying EU energy law "if the opinion of the [legal services] is modified."
According to the newspaper, "while the lawyers’ opinion is not binding on Brussels, it outlines stark internal differences among Commission officials regarding a gas pipeline project that could change the EU energy landscape."
The Nord Stream 2 project implies construction of 2 lines of the pipeline with the total capacity of 55 bln cubic meters from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea. The route and the entry point to the German gas transport system in Greifswald are intended to be the same as for the first Nord Stream gas pipeline launched in 2011. The project will be implemented by the New European Pipeline AG. In this company, Gazprom will hold 51% while German E.ON and BASF/Wintershall, British-Dutch Shell and Austrian OMV will hold 10% each, France’s ENGIE will own 9%.