France-German split over Russian gas pipeline

Growing opposition has mounted against a Russian gas pipeline linked to Germany

epa07348303 (FILE) - Construction work takes place on the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline near Luebesse, Germany, 14 April 2011 (reissued 06 February 2019). According to reports, France has decided to vote against the Germany-supported Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, when the EU votes on its position on 07 February. Reportedly France does not want to harm Polish or Slovak interests and not further enhance dependence from Russian gas.  EPA/Jens Buettner  GERMANY OUT *** Local Caption *** 02687498

France is set to abandon Germany amidst a growing row over a new gas pipeline linking Russia to the continent.

Growing opposition has mounted against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, of which a third has been laid underneath the Baltic Sea.

According to reports in Germany, France will vote for stricter transparency rules for non-EU companies such as Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom, which could scupper the project. Gazprom has a majority stake in the project.

The gas pipeline will link Russia directly with Germany and will be the second gas pipeline connecting Russia with Europe crossing the Baltics.

Other western countries will be linked to Nord Stream 2 via Germany.

France is weighing up its options after listening to Eastern European concerns about Europe’s energy dependence on Russia.

Poland is concerned that when Russian gas no longer has to be exported via the Ukraine, the country’s security could be weakened without guaranteed protection against further Russian aggression.

Many European countries rely on Russia for natural gas, which makes them susceptible to potentially having their gas supplies cut off.

Russian President Vladimir Putin blocked the flow of gas to neighbours last year and has done so previously in 2006, 2009 and 2014.

Kay-Olaf Lang from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Warsaw, told Germany’s Deutsche Welle that the pipeline represented “German disloyalty towards its eastern neighbour, and of a special relationship with Russia.”

US ambassadors to Germany, Denmark and the EU have urged countries to abandon the project over fears of Europe’s future energy security.

“Abandoning Nord Stream 2 will not be easy, but doing the right thing is often not easy. Any losses incurred in stopping the project will be repaid with the gain of energy security across the continent,” ambassadors told German media.

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