The Bundestag adopted the legislation through a simple majority vote.
The European Commission amended its Gas Directive in April, and the amended document entered into force on 23 May. It stipulates that a third-party nation cannot own both the pipeline and gas imported into the EU market unless the conduit was built before 23 May 2019.
However, EU member states have yet to transpose the amendments in their respective legislation. While the amended Directive is unable to halt the construction of Nord Stream 2, it is capable of delaying or suspending its operation.
The bill was supposed to have been adopted last week, but because the vote was held late at night, not enough lawmakers were present to satisfy the quorum. In particular, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party demanded that the vote be held name-by-name. On Wednesday, the German lawmakers ended up simply standing up to express their stance.
"I pronounce the legislation adopted with the majority of the CDU/CSU, SDP and Free Democratic Party voting in favor; the Alliance 90/The Greens and the AfD voting against; and the Left abstaining", Bundestag Vice Speaker Thomas Oppermann said at the parliamentary session.
The adopted legislation stipulates that the amendments not be applied to "the parts of pipelines that are located within the territory of Germany" and are eligible under certain criteria. Thus, the first junction of such a pipe with an EU member state's pipelines must be located in Germany and the pipeline was constructed before 23 May 2019. There should be objective reasons for such an extension (depreciation of investments, secure supply considerations, etc.), while the exemption should not negatively impact the competition and secure energy supplies in the European Union.
According to the CDU/CSU note for the Committee for energy and economics, such wording is in line with the EU-prescribed amendments. The Nord Stream pipeline, thus, will be exempt from the new regulations being an already built project, while for Nord Stream 2 "the legislative rules must be applied in order for unbundling [separation of energy supply and its ownership] to occur at a 12-nautical-mile segment [13.8 miles]," the note read.
"The compromise reached between the EU and Germany stipulates that the relevant party of Nord Stream 2 will be regulated by the Federal Network Agency", the party added.
The European Commission initially insisted on its own regulative authority over the pipe. Now the decisions to grant an exemption under the new energy package will be taken by the Bundesnetzagentur at the request of the operating company by 24 May 2020.
Nord Stream 2 is a twin pipeline with a combined capacity of 1.9 trillion cubic feet. The construction is expected to complete by the end of this year. When set, the pipeline will deliver natural gas to Germany and further on to Central Europe.