In November 2017, the European Commission proposed extending EU energy rules to gas pipelines from third countries to Europe. In particular, the Commission seeks the right to demand a separation of gas sales and pipeline operating activities, as well as third-party access to a pipeline. It is believed that the amendments in question mainly target Nord Stream 2, under which Russian natural gas would be brought to Europe via the Baltic Sea and a hub in Germany.
Germany’s legal opinion, as quoted by the newspaper, has rejected the amendments proposed by the European Commission in the third revision. According to the document, they are ultimately aimed at regulating only one infrastructure project, while envisaging exceptions for others.
The amendments in question, the document maintains, are compatible with neither European nor international law.
Even if the amendments are adopted before the completion of Nord Stream 2, the European Union will still have to make an exception for the project since the investment decision on its construction was made much earlier, and the financing of the project has begun, according to Germany.
Nord Stream 2 is a joint venture of Russian gas giant Gazprom and five European companies. It aims to deliver 55 billion cubic metres (1.9 trillion cubic feet) of Russian natural gas annually to the European Union. The pipeline project has been welcomed by some countries in Europe and opposed by others, who've raised concerns over the alleged danger of Europe becoming dependent on Russia and the subsequent diminished transit role of Ukraine.
Washington has been also strongly opposing the project. Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, has voiced the belief that US President Donald Trump is seeking to force Russia out of the European energy market so that the United States can sell more liquefied natural gas to Europe. Moscow has also reiterated that the pipeline is a purely commercial project.