Thirteen EU members, including Poland, supported the European Commission request to negotiate with Russia about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, despite Germany’s opposition. “We had 13 delegations intervening, with all of them being supportive of the Commission’s approach,” Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic told Reuters.
EU nations will vote in the autumn on the European Commission’s request. Germany, the main beneficiary of the pipeline, sees it as a purely commercial project, with Chancellor Angela Merkel last week saying she saw no role for the Commission.
The proposed gas link would connect Russia and Germany through Baltic, circumventing Ukraine, which many sees as the next step of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has caused the EU to put sanctions against Russia. Some EU diplomats hope that by giving the Commission mandate to negotiate, the project would be delayed, depriving Russia of the leverage in talks with Kiev regarding transit fees. The current deal expires in 2019. The majority of Russian gas sent to the EU goes through Ukraine.
Germany, Austria and France, which have firms partnering with Gazprom on the project, abstained from speaking during the debate, Reuters said.