Chancellor Scholz calls for keeping "private sector project" Nord Stream 2 out of Ukraine crisis
Clean Energy Wire
Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken out against linking the operating permit for the controversial Russian-German natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 to efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. “Nord Stream 2 is a private sector project that has been advanced to the point where a pipeline has been laid,” said Scholz at a press conference with French president Emmanuel Macron after an EU summit. The question as to how far Nord Stream 2 meets the unbundling criteria of European energy law is yet to be answered. “An authority in Germany is deciding this in a completely non-political way,” said Scholz, adding that possible action to secure Ukraine’s borders was “a different question.”
The chancellor also commented on the ongoing debate about whether to label nuclear energy and natural gas as sustainable investments under the EU taxonomy. The European Commission reportedly plans to publish a so-called delegated act next week, which could then only be blocked by a large majority of member states. Sitting next to Macron, Scholz said “we are in intensive discussion – with each other, but also with the Commission – about what [the delegated act] could look like.”
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline would connect Germany directly to Russia, but it has split opinions in Europe and beyond for years. The pipeline awaits certification as an independent transmission operator by the German regulator BNetzA, which has suspended the process until Swiss-based operator company Nord Stream AG has founded a subsidiary under German law solely to govern the German stretch of the pipeline. Also the previous government under Angela Merkel has held that the pipeline is a private sector endeavour, a position that has been widely criticised by Germany's neighbours fearing greater political influence by Russia over European energy affairs.