GERMANY MAY ADJOURN NORD STREAM 2 LAUNCH AMIDST NEW GAS PRICE HIKE

Contrary to all expectations, the German government seems to be taking a stance against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Several factors are being speculated to explain the possible reversal, but the thesis most accepted by the experts so far is that the escalation of tensions in Ukraine, provoked by NATO itself with its anti-Russian paranoia, is hampering the final negotiations for the functioning of the gas platform. Also, in a recent statement, the new German foreign minister stated that the gas pipeline does not meet the requirements imposed by European energy regulations, which is why it apparently will not be authorized to function. As a result, tensions continue to grow on the European continent.

On Monday, Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign minister, said that the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 could not be authorized to start operations due to the fact that it did not comply with energy regulations established by the European Union. Baerbock did not deny the benefits of the gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, but she was clear and irreducible in stating that it will not be possible to authorize the operations of the platform due to its inability to comply with the bloc’s requirements.

Such European norms with which the pipeline would be supposedly failing to comply are related to merely bureaucratic issues linked to safety measures – which is why a stoppage of the project was not expected (at least due to this matter). Apparently, Russia has not yet provided answers to some security policy requirements made by the EU. This would be the main “mistake” made by Russia – enough to motivate the veto of one of the most important infrastructure projects in the contemporary world.

Despite such speech about supposed non-compliance with regulations, it would be naive to think that this is the main reason for the West to boycott the pipeline. In fact, the American government has always seen the platform as a threat, but this type of position has not been shared by the Germans, who in recent years have prioritized their national interests in energy matters and taken different paths from those planned by the US for them. Now, however, with the government in the hands of an immature political coalition, several changes have taken place quickly and it seems the new government’s formation is turned to favoring Western interests.

At the international level, the Ukrainian issue has also been one of the main destabilizing factors against the pipeline. Amid escalating tensions, NATO countries are increasingly endorsing the conspiracy theory of a Russian “invasion plan”, which is driving more and more sanctions in the Western world. As Nord Stream 2 is the main issue regarding relations between Russia and Europe today, the pipeline becomes an easy target for criticism and sanctions, which partially explains the new boycott that has been applied.

On this matter, Minister Baerbock herself commented on another occasion: “The territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is non-negotiable for us. Russia would pay a high political and economic price for renewed violation of Ukrainian statehood (…) I will call on Chancellor Scholz not to give in to pressure from Russia and not to allow Nord Stream 2 to be used as an instrument for blackmail against Ukraine, an instrument for blackmail against Poland, an instrument for blackmail against the European Union”.

But this kind of radical position, like Baerbock’s one, is far from representing unanimity in the European world and in German society itself. Many German politicians insist on the importance of the Nord Stream returning to work as soon as possible, which has created an internal instability, with which Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been trying to deal, being notorious his difficulty in consolidating an official position.

Scholz has always supported the pipeline and apparently continues to do so, but pressure from his opponents in the coalition could change its stance at any time. The same pressure comes from neighboring countries that would also benefit from the pipeline. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, for example, is absolutely against any linking between Nord Stream 2 and Ukraine and recently said that he expects the completion of the pipeline activities to start soon.

As a consequence of this scenario of tensions, gas prices reached a high this week, which showed how the European continent is really with an unstable energy security, being a victim of the speculation in the financial market. The absence of the gas pipeline will perpetuate this situation, as without the Nord Stream 2 technology, gas prices tend to increase, directly threatening European energy stability.

In fact, the new German government needs to take tougher positions and overcome the challenge of defeating the political pressure internally and externally, prioritizing German interests in the Nord Stream 2 issue – and in any other. The boycott of the pipeline is an exclusively American initiative, which only serves the interests of Washington (which wants to destabilize Russia and sell gas to Europe through the more expensive and ecologically degrading ocean route). There is no benefit for Europeans in adopting these anti-Russian measures and this is becoming more and more evident day after day.