EU Delays Talks on Gas Directive Affecting Nord Stream 2

А European Union committee on June 20 decided to postpone the discussion of amendments to the EU gas directive before the tripartite talks between Russia, Ukraine and the EU on extending the Ukrainian gas transit contract, two sources close to its participants told Vedomosti.

The gas directive is one of the basic documents of Europe’s energy legislation aimed at fostering competition in this sphere. In November 2017, the European Commission proposed amending the document, which could affect the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. According to the current version of the directive, EU countries can determine for themselves what standards a gas supplier must meet for sea pipelines.

Representatives from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and other states recommended postponing further discussion of the amendments to the gas directive in order to avoid “any negative influence” on the forthcoming trilateral gas transit negotiations. According to another source, the agenda has changed – German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with both Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Merkel shared Poroshenko’s position that there should be transit through Ukraine, but Putin noted that gas transit through Ukraine is possible provided that it is economically feasible. So if these changes to the directive will be further discussed, this could damage the negotiation process that has already started,” the source said. Therefore, the committee has decided to discuss the amendments to the gas directive after the tripartite talks.

“Amendments to the EU gas directive do not comply with the principles of international law and discredit the legal system of the (European) Union,” Deputy Director of Russia’s National Energy Security Fund Alexey Grivach told the newspaper.

“The fact that its adoption has been postponed is good for both Nord Stream 2 and the energy security of the European Union, as well as its reputation,” he stressed.

The politically controversial pipeline is intended to bring Russian gas straight to Europe, bypassing Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic countries. The United States and some EU members have expressed concerns that Nord Stream 2 will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.