Merkel set for U.S. visit to iron out Nord Stream 2 dispute – media report
Handelsblatt / Clean Energy Wire
[UPDATE adds date for Merkel visit]
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Washington, D.C. to settle the transatlantic dispute between the U.S. and Germany over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Moritz Koch and Klaus Stratmann write in Handelsblatt. The trip will be Merkel’s first visit to the U.S. since the election of President Joe Biden. While the talks are expected to cover a range of issues, the Nord Stream 2 project, a Russian-German gas link under construction in the Baltic Sea, will be high on the agenda. The Biden White House, like previous administrations, has opposed the completion of the pipeline, mainly arguing that it would increase European reliance on Russia and imperil the continent’s security policy.
The government press office confirmed in an e-mail that Merkel will travel to the U.S. on 15 July.
In May, however, the U.S. decided to waive sanctions against German company Nord Stream 2 AG, which is overseeing the pipeline’s construction, and its CEO Matthias Warnig. The Biden administration said it was lifting the sanctions in order to not compromise its relationship with Germany. According to Handelsblatt, Merkel’s government has put forward proposals it hopes will lead to a mutually acceptable solution and which will serve as the basis for the upcoming talks between the chancellor and the U.S. president. The plan includes making the aid that Germany provides to Ukraine more transparent and possibly expanding support for the country, such as helping it become a hydrogen exporter.
Germany is focussing on rapidly developing hydrogen as a key energy carrier in order to meet its climate goals. Converting Ukraine’s existing network of natural gas pipelines for this purpose would also benefit the rest of Europe, but the country would need high investments in renewable energy sources, particularly wind power, to produce hydrogen in a climate-friendly manner. Merkel and Biden will also have an opportunity to chat at the G7 meeting in the UK, where a bilateral discussion is expected to take place during the summit in Cornwall.