Russian media reports that the Vice President of the European Commission for Energy is promising a retaliation if the US issues sanctions against European energy corporations over participation in the Nord Stream 2 project.
It is US pressure that prompts Danish authorities to deliberately drag their feet on issuing a permit for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, sources told Russia’s Izvestia newspaper.
Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic was quoted by Russian media as saying that the EU will have to respond in kind if the US decides to slap sanctions on the European companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
When asked whether Washington should threaten Brussels with punitive measures and intervene in debates on the future of the Nord Stream 2 project, Sefcovic recalled that the European Union remains a large economy which he said must uphold its economic interests and protect its companies.
He urged US counterparts to hold talks before considering the introduction of sanctions against each other.
US Applies Pressure to Prevent Nord Stream 2 Construction
Sefcovic’s remarks came after the Russian newspaper Izvestia cited sources as saying that Denmark, which has yet to issue permission for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, is “apparently scared of disappointing its main ally Washington, which twists its partners’ arms in order to force Russian gas out of the European market and fill it with its LNG.”
The sources added that “at the same time, Copenhagen fears spoiling relations with Berlin, which supports the construction of Nord Stream 2 as a commercial project.”
In a written commentary for Sputnik, Nord Stream AG spokesman Jens Moeller, for his part, recalled that “in April 2017, Nord Stream 2 applied in accordance with the existing law for a route based on the guidance received from Danish authorities during the successful planning and construction of the existing Nord Stream pipeline.”
“Nord Stream 2 considers this planned route to be the optimal alignment based on the applicable national and international law, current regulatory framework and environmental and safety considerations. We intend to pursue our application with the currently planned route,” he pointed out.
In late November 2017, Denmark introduced an array of amendments to the country’s legislation, which allows the government to reject the construction of pipelines in Danish territorial waters due to security reasons or foreign policy issues.
Foreign Policy magazine, in turn, quoted three sources familiar with the issue as saying in early June that the US administration is close to slapping sanctions on energy companies from Germany and other EU countries that are involved in the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project.
One of the sources said that “the [Trump] administration is taking a whole government approach to stopping the Nord Stream project.”
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between Russia’s Gazprom, France’s Engie, Austria’s OMV AG, the Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Uniper and Wintershall of Germany.
The project involves the construction of two legs of a gas pipeline to run from the Russian coast through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The pipeline is due to be put into operation in 2019.
The United States, one of Europe’s largest trading partners and primary security ally, has been on a two fold mission to shut down the Nord Stream 2 project both to obstruct any sort of further cooperation between Europe and Russia as well as to further promote American LNG to the European market. Sanctions are already a major issue in relations between Europe and America as they inhibit improved relations and trade with Russia and they threaten the non proliferation agreement with Iran, to which the EU and three European member states are signatories. But the present moment is not the best for issuing even more threats against Europe, due to Trump’s escalating trade war, having recently levied tariffs against European steel and aluminum, and threatening more tariffs, this time against European autos.