European Parliament Approves Draft Rules to Regulate Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

The European Parliament passed draft rules on Wednesday to extend EU’s internal energy market laws to offshore gas pipelines such as Russia’s planned Nord Stream 2 link to Germany, Reuters reported.

The Parliament’s industry committee voted 41 votes to 13 in favor of the European Commission’s proposal, with 9 abstentions.

In its current form, the Nord Stream 2 project, fully owned by Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom, does not comply with the EU’s so-called third energy package rules. “It’s too difficult to find a compromise,” one EU diplomat said of the last round of talks among EU nations last week. “It’s likely it won’t go anywhere.”

The vote on Wednesday also puts pressure on EU governments to decide on a key proposal on which they have so far failed to agree.

The Commission’s proposal is supported by east European and Baltic countries, which fear the 1,225km (760-mile) pipeline will undercut EU efforts to reduce dependence on Moscow and EU support for Ukraine by depriving it of gas transit fees.

The pipeline’s backers, including Germany, oppose the rule change as an attempt to block what they see as a commercial project to pump 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year under the Baltic Sea.

The Commission last year proposed the changes to its gas directive to make all import pipelines subject to rules that require they not be owned directly by gas suppliers, apply non-discriminatory tariffs and make capacity available to third parties.

EU officials say negotiations with Moscow may be needed over the pipeline, which begins outside EU jurisdiction on Russia’s shores.

Nord Stream 2 is financed by five European energy companies: German groups Uniper and Wintershall, Anglo-Dutch group Shell, Austria’s OMV and France’s Engie.