Germany Lashes Out at U.S. Over Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Threat

Germany on Thursday warned the United States to keep out of European energy matters after U.S. lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill that would sanction contractors working on the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany, RT reports.

The EU also opposed sanctions against “companies doing legitimate business”.

“European energy policy is decided in Europe, not in the U.S.,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter.

“We reject external interference,” he said.

The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline will run under the Baltic Sea and is set to double shipments of Russian natural gas to Germany. Half of the project is financed by Russian gas giant Gazprom, with the rest covered by its European partners: Germany’s Wintershall and Uniper, Anglo-Dutch Shell, France’s Engie and Austria’s OMV.

The German-Russian Chamber of Commerce (AHK) said the pipeline was important for the energy security of Europe as a whole and called for retaliatory sanctions against the United States if the bill passes.

“Europe should respond to sanctions that damage Europe with counter-sanctions,” said AHK chief Matthias Schepp. He added the sanctions would end up affecting European companies more than Russia.

Supporters of the 1,230-kilometre pipeline say it will be a reliable source of cheap energy but critics warn it could end up vastly increasing Russia’s political influence in Europe.

Also on Thursday, EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said Brussels “opposes the imposition of sanctions against any EU companies conducting legitimate business”.

“The (European) Commission objective has always been to ensure that Nord Stream operates in a very transparent and in a non-discriminatory way with the appropriate degree of oversight,” he said.