In an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper, German Economy and Trade Minister Peter Altmaier described the EU's new directive on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a "powerful signal" for those who have criticised the project.
"Firstly, each country has the right to freely maintain those economic and trade relations that it considers correct. Nord Stream 2 is first of all a private project which has already been approved by many countries," Altmaier underscored.
Touching upon criticism from US President Donald Trump, who pointed out Germany's dependence on Russia in the energy sector, Altmaier assured that Berlin "will never succumb to blackmail".
His interview came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that France and Germany had clinched a compromise agreement on regulations concerning Nord Stream 2 which specifically empowers Berlin as the key negotiator with Russia on the pipeline project.
The accord also guarantees that any rules will be applied by the "territory and territorial sea of the member state where the first interconnection point is located". This point is located on German territory.
The agreement was reached after France contravened Germany and decided to back the new regulations ahead of a vote on amendments to the Gas Directive that would let the European Commission gain leverage over the Nord Stream 2 project.
The Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture between the Russian company Gazprom, Engie of France, OMV of Austria, the Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell, and the Germany companies Uniper and Wintershall. It aims to deliver 55 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas per year to the European Union via the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine.