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Estonia's Paet: By supporting Nord Stream 2, Germany ignores energy independence principle

TALLINN - Member of the European Parliament Urmas Paet, former longtime foreign minister of Estonia, criticized the German government for supporting the construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and opined that such action ignores the shared objectives of the European Energy Union aimed at decreasing dependence on external energy traders.

"The development of Nord Stream 2 continues at full throttle, despite the fact that several European states have expressed their severe concerns, including Poland and the Baltic states, as well as the European Commission and the European Parliament. The reason for [those concerns] is that Nord Stream 2 would increase Europe's energy dependence on Gazprom gas, which is in direct conflict with the main objective of the Energy Union of the EU -- preventing a situation where an excessively large part of the market is dominated by an external trader, whereby the energy security of Europe is weakened," Paet writes in his blog.

"Whatever the reasons behind Russia's efforts to establish Nord Stream 2, that much is clear -- Russia cannot build the pipeline alone. Several European companies are cooperating with Gazprom in its construction. More importantly, it would be impossible without the consent and support of the German government. The implementation of this project would not be possible if the German government did not ignore those who criticize Nord Stream 2 because, in addition to the short-term economic gain, the latter can also see the fundamental long-term risks involving security, politics and economy," Paet's blog post reads.

"The construction of Nord Stream 2 and the German government's support to it are in direct conflict with the objectives of the EU Energy Union seeking to decrease dependence on external energy traders. Nord Stream 2 ignores the concerns of several allies of Germany and grants Russia additional strategic opportunities to influence Europe as it increases Europe's energy dependence on Russia," Paet said, adding that inconsistencies between the EU member states arising from the construction of the pipeline come at a time when unity and cooperation are required instead. France, for instance, is pushing for an amendment to the Gas Directive seeking to specify that the rules imposed on pipelines by the EU should also apply to the lines located outside the EU through which gas is imported to Europe.

"Thus, operation of the pipeline and the supply of gas would be separate from one another. When it comes to Nord Stream, however, Gazprom is in charge of both. Therefore, Nord Stream 2 would not comply with the possible new rules. France, like most EU states, does not want to increase Europe's dependence on Russia or jeopardize the EU's strategic interests, Paet" said. "80 percent of the gas used in Germany comes from Gazprom and Nord Stream 2 would further decrease Germany's energy self-sufficiency. There will also be a negative impact on the energy security of the European Union, which will further delay fulfilling the objectives of Europe's energy policy. Germany, however, has ignored the concerns and warnings of the other EU states, NATO and the United States and, by supporting Nord Stream 2, has acted against the will of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the majority of the Council of Europe," he added.

"From the perspective of increasing security and energy independence in Europe, it is important that the German government change its policy with regard to Nord Stream 2, stop blocking the preparation of the EU Gas Directive and align itself with the European Commission and the European Parliament. It is of utmost importance with regard to the unity of the European Union in relation to security and energy; its impact, however, reaches even further than that," Paet said.

"The ones who will gain the most from Nord Stream 2 are the Kremlin, Gazprom and some companies in Europe. The serious risk relating to politics and security, however, will be borne by Germany and other states of the European Union. Germany should not prioritize the economic interest of a number of its companies over the interests and values of Europe as a whole. Thus, all that remains is to hope that the German government will reconsider, change course with regard to Nord Stream 2 and commit to strengthening the energy security and self sufficiency of the whole Europe," Paet said.

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