Manfred Weber, the European Parliament’s candidate for the post of European Commission head, in an interview with the Polish edition of Newsweek, said that if he was elected head of the European Commission, he would do “everything possible” to stop Nord Stream II. In his opinion, this project is contrary to European interests, and the EU has the tools to combat it.
– I strongly oppose the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. This is not an economic project at all, but an exclusively political one, it is contrary to the interests of the European Union, so we must block it, – he said.
According to Weber, the project will hit the Ukrainian interests, and in the long term, and gas prices for European countries. At the same time, he noted that the EU already has enough ties with Russia.
In addition, Weber stressed that one of the most active supporters of Nord Stream 2 in Europe is Gerhard Schröder, who, he said, is not a businessman, but a politician.
He also called the tools that can block the project: the EU gas and economic directives.
– At the moment we already have the tools for this, I mean the gas and energy directive. And if I become the head of the European Commission, I will study them again and see what other options we have to influence this project, – he concluded.
It is worth noting that the one-to-one point of view expressed by Weber coincides with the position of the American authorities, who constantly talk about the need to stop the construction of the pipeline, which, in their opinion, is an exclusively political project and will make Europe dependent on Russia. In Moscow, Washington’s position is attributed solely to the desire to impose its more expensive liquefied gas on Europe.
The German authorities, in particular, Chancellor Angela Merkel, have repeatedly stressed that this is an economic project, which, on the contrary, will strengthen Europe’s energy security. At the same time, Berlin stands for the preservation of Ukrainian gas transit, the contract for which expires this year.
According to the Weber-mentioned amendments to the gas directive, which the EC proposed to introduce last fall, the requirements of the Third Energy Package, which prohibits combining gas sale and transportation activities, should have been extended to gas pipelines coming to the EU from third countries, including the “Nord Stream” -2 “. However, at the end of February, the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the EU member states approved compromise amendments to the document, according to which gas pipelines in the territorial seas of the EU countries would have to obey the same rules as land pipelines, however exceptions may be limited in duration.
– Weber represents the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), – recalls Vadim Trukhachev, associate professor at the Department of Foreign Regional Studies and Foreign Policy of the RSUH.
- Inside it, as well as inside the CDU, there is an anti-Russian and pro-American wing, and there is a more loyal to Russia. He refers to the first. To underestimate this part of the German conservatives is not worth it – it is quite influential.
– What are the chances of Weber to become the head of the EC? And can the EC influence projects such as the SP-2?
- The European Commission may influence the fate of all pipelines. None of them can build a single state. What are the chances – depends on the elections to the European Parliament. But given the fact that the German position of the head of the EC has not yet occupied, and the European People’s Party is likely to win, there are chances. True, in a new position he will probably be more careful in choosing expressions.
– Germany is the main beneficiary of the SP-2 in the EU. Why are some of her politicians opposed?
– In Germany, there are enough opponents of cooperation with Russia. They prevail among the “green” and free democrats, there are many of them in the CDU. They come across both in the CSU and the Social Democrats. For all of them, SP-2 is a purely political project that must be abandoned in order to strike at Russia. I emphasize that the “greens” are by no means pro-American, unlike the others mentioned above.
– Among the tools that can block the project, Weber called the EU gas and economic directives. Will these tools help?
- Theoretically, they can help, because the final decisions are made by the EU.
But if there is not 55% of the countries in which 65% of the population of the European Union are opposed to the SP-2, no European Commission will block anything. While there are only five tough opponents of the project, they may gain another two or three, but this is clearly not enough to derail SP-2.
– Who are these five? And whose interests are they promoting, speaking against the SP-2? Of Ukraine? USA? Or your own?
– Great Britain, Poland, the three Baltic countries. Who can join them? Romania, Croatia and Denmark. Only Poland has its transit interest. The rest are driven by rabid Russophobia or a desire to curry favor with the United States. In Romanians, this prevails, in the Balts, Russophobia, in the rest, a mixture of both. The English have their own accounts with us … But Romania, Croatia and Denmark may not join the top five … Formerly, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were against, but Russia began negotiations with them. Sweden was against, but it has already agreed to pipe laying.
– Manfred Weber is considered to be the creature of Angela Merkel, who, after leaving the post of chancellor, intends nevertheless to retain control not only over Germany, but over the entire European Union, – said Igor Shatrov, deputy director of the National Institute of Contemporary Ideology.
But he recently stated: “ I am not the heir to Angela Merkel’s household. I am Manfred Weber, an independent politician who shares the views of the current chancellor of Germany. ” This is a quote from one interview with him. It was strange to hear from his lips such statements, directly contradicting the position of the German Chancellor. Over time, we find out what happened in reality, why he so radically changed his views.
It should be borne in mind that since 2004, Weber has been a member of the European Parliament from Germany, and heads the European People’s Party, the leading faction of the EP. And his chances of leading this European institution are quite large. It can be assumed that with such statements he either gathers additional votes in his support, or has already fallen under the influence of external forces. It is no secret that they are preparing for the European elections not only in Europe, but also overseas.
Opponents of Nord Stream-2, the lobbyists of American liquefied gas on European politicians, are being overt pressure. Weber may be one of the victims of this tough campaign to push through the interests of American manufacturers.
– Germany has always been the main attorney for SP-2. However, as you can see, not everyone in this country wants it to become Europe’s largest gas hub. Why? Are there many politicians in the country, such as this Weber? Do they have influence?
– Weber’s statement may turn out to be a false start and deprive him of support in Germany. The Nord Stream 2 project for German business is primarily economic. But the political component is not to be discounted. And the policy here is that with the commissioning of the SP-2, Europe’s infrastructure dependence on Germany remains and even increases.
The Germans reasonably believe that Germany, which bears the main burden of European spending, should have leverage in the hands of the rest of Europe in the event of a crisis. In fact, speaking out against Nord Stream 2, Weber speaks out against German business, which for the most part is a supporter of the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia. The same position is occupied by the leading nationally oriented politicians of Germany.
– If Weber becomes the head of the EC, can we expect any decisive action against SP-2? How generally can the EC change something at this stage?
- The project will be completed in any case. In the case of the exit from the construction of European companies, which, indeed, can happen due to American pressure, Gazprom is ready to buy out their share and finish the pipeline on their own. There is information that Chinese investors will be ready to participate in the project in this case.
– Among the tools that can allow to block the project, Weber called the EU Gas and Energy Directive (the latter means the so-called Third Energy Package). Will they help stop the SP-2? How can we respond to this?
- One of the points of the Gas Directive prohibits gas suppliers in the EU from owning gas pipelines. The EU, according to the Third Energy Package, may also prohibit any foreign company from operating a gas pipeline on the territory of another state at full capacity, by no more than 50%. There are various options for the withdrawal of the “Nord Stream-2” from the action of these restrictions. For example, the final segment of the gas pipeline at the entrance to the EU may be transferred to the management of a German operating company to which the EU directive does not apply. The rest of the pipe, outside the jurisdiction of the European Union, will remain under Russian control.
Other options are possible. In any case, Germany’s interest in the project makes it possible to expect that it will be implemented.