"The European Commission has today adopted a request to the Council of the European Union for a mandate to negotiate with the Russian Federation the key principles for the operation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project," the EC said in a statement.
EC spokesman Alexander Winterstein said at a briefing, meanwhile, that the negotiating mandate on the gas pipeline is needed "to avoid that this project, if it ever materializes, would operate in a legal void."
"There is existing, well-functioning gas transportation infrastructure in place to ensure Europe's energy supply. Building Nord Stream 2, would, at the same time, endanger existing transport routes, notably via Ukraine," the statement said.
From the Commission’s point of view, the Nord Stream 2 project must comply with the following principles: transparency in pipeline operation, non-discriminatory tariff-setting, an appropriate level of non-discriminatory third party access and a degree of separation between activities of supply and transmission.
Nord Stream 2, a joint venture of Russia’s Gazprom with France's Engie, Austria’s OMV AG, Royal Dutch Shell, Germany's Uniper and Wintershall, will bring an estimated 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Germany across the Baltic Sea, while bypassing Ukraine. The launch of the pipeline is planned for 2018.