BRUSSELS – The European Union’s top energy official said the bloc’s legislative body will seek legal changes to avoid some of the controversy surrounding a new Russian-backed undersea pipeline.
Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said the changes could be implemented by the end of 2018 at the latest.
Speaking at an informal EU meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, on September 20, Canete told reporters that the bloc’s executive office is waiting for backing from member states to negotiate with Russia over the pipeline, known as Nordstream 2.
When completed in 2019, it will run directly from Russia, under the Baltic Sea, into Germany, bypassing several European transit countries. That will help Moscow avoid the transit fee disputes and other nettlesome politics that have plagued its existing pipeline network.
Some European leaders fear that without legal changes, the pipeline will deepen the continent’s dependence on Russian gas and give Moscow more negotiating leverage over unrelated political issues.
The European Commission fears Nordstream 2 could operate in a legal void and asked for a mandate to negotiate over issues such as nondiscriminatory tariff-setting and separating supply and transmission activity, as well as third-party access.