by Anastazja Kolodziej
Why do Poland and other European nations oppose the project?
Nord Stream 2 has submitted a third application for a route option through the Danish exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the company wrote in a statement released April 15. The EEZ border between Denmark and Poland had been disputed, so the company was previously unable to request access to the area.
Nord Stream 2 has already submitted two other applications to the Danish Energy Agency (DEA), the first of which was sent over two years ago. Due to a lack of response from Denmark, the company has accused the nation of trying to delay the project.
“Nord Stream 2 expects to receive fair treatment. Project developers and investors have to rely on the rule of law,” Sebastian Sass, the Nord Stream 2 spokesperson for the European Union, told New Europe.
He added that the previous two applications have not been rejected. They are still pending and could be useful options for the company if they are approved.
The Nord Stream 2 project, a 1,200-kilometer (746-mile) pipeline which will transport natural gas from the Leningrad region of Russia directly to Germany, has faced much opposition from the Baltic nations, Ukraine and the United States. Poland has been one of the project’s most vocal critics.
Opponents of the pipeline argue that it will increase dependence on Russia and its state-owned energy companies at a time when many European nations view the Kremlin as a threat to their national security. The sole shareholder for Nord Stream 2 is the Russian gas firm Gazprom, though energy companies from Austria, France, Germany and the Netherlands back the project as financial investors.
The Kremlin has, on multiple occasions, firmly declared that Nord Stream 2 is solely an economic project, rather than a political tool, but many Eastern European nations argue that Europe should not engage in big business with Putin.
“Security these days is increasingly indivisible. There’s no clear division between internal and external security and also geographically,” said Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser.
The United States has also expressed disapproval of the project. In 2018, the U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said that the U.S. might impose sanctions against the Kremlin because of the Nord Stream 2 project.
“Minister [Alexandr] Novak and I both agree that getting to that point of sanctions is not where we want to go,” Secretary Perry said.
Ukraine has also opposed the project. The existing pipelines from Russia to Europe run through Ukraine, but with Nord Stream 2, the nation would be cut out from the process entirely and its economy would take a blow.
While many European nations disapprove of the plan, nations such as Russia and Germany vehemently support it. Both countries say that the plan will provide economic benefits to all of Europe. Germany also argues that Nord Stream 2 would help the country meet its energy needs, now that the government has decided to phase out nuclear power.
Nord Stream 2 maintains that the project will “make a positive contribution to the Energy Union goals by securing an additional route of gas supply.”
In addition to its issues securing a permit from Denmark, Nord Stream 2 has faced significant obstacles over the past two years with establishing the pipeline and its route. Most recently, the European Commission passed an amendment to its Gas Directive in February so that its rules cover pipelines from outside nations.
“The new rules ensure that EU law will be applied to pipelines bringing gas to Europe and that everyone interested in selling gas to Europe must respect European energy law,” EU Commissioner Arias Canete said in a statement.
With the new amendment, Nord Stream 2 will have to abide by the EU rules.
Despite any setbacks, the project is already under construction. More than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of the pipeline have already been laid. The project is set to finish this year.
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