by FINANCIAL TIMES EDITORS
The EU should take steps...to halt [Nord Stream 2]...because it is against Europe’s interests.
The $21bn pipeline aims to carry more Russian natural gas under the Baltic Sea direct to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and Poland. But it makes no economic or, from the EU’s standpoint, strategic sense. It will not transport additional gas, but merely provide an alternative to the trans-Ukraine pipeline, which is only running at 50 per cent capacity. Investment to modernise Ukraine’s Soviet-era network is much cheaper than building a new subsea route.
By offering Germany potentially cheaper energy prices and the chance to replace Ukraine as the “hub” for Russian gas imports to Europe, Moscow has skillfully co-opted parts of the German political and business elite. That is particularly true of the centre-left SPD. Former chancellor Gerhard Schröder chairs both the shareholders’ committee of the company that built the first Nord Stream pipeline, and the board of Russia’s Rosneft oil company.
The mechanics of Germany’s governing coalition may give Ms Merkel little choice but to support the project. If so, the onus falls on EU authorities to find a way to block the project, as inconsistent with everything that EU energy policy seeks to achieve.
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