German Foreign Minister says certification of gas pipeline still suspended
The controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project does not yet meet European Union requirements for certification, and the process will remain suspended until the operator makes changes, Germany's foreign minister said on Monday.
Speaking to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Annalena Baerbock indicated that the future launch of Nord Stream 2 has geopolitical implications, and therefore the new government in Berlin demands that all requirements be met before certification.
Approval of the pipeline, which could have been completed this month, was suspended in mid-November after the German Federal Network Agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, insisted that operator Nord Stream 2 AG create a German subsidiary. The German Energy Ministry described the suspension as a regulatory issue and an interim step, and the process will resume when the firm migrates.
Baerbock, a member of the Green Party, became foreign minister in December following a coalition deal with the Social Democratic Party and the Free Democratic Party. Before the cabinet was formed, Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed off on a wide-reaching agreement that included a new policy on the controversial pipeline.
"Our federal government clearly stated in the coalition agreement that energy projects in Germany must comply with European requirements, which also applies to Nord Stream 2. That is not the case at the moment, so the certification process has been suspended," Baerbock said.
The foreign minister also said that Berlin has an agreement with the US, which vows to use tough measures against Russia, in case Moscow uses energy as a weapon against Ukraine.
Nord Stream 2 was completed in September and now connects Russia to Germany without passing through any third country. This means that, once it starts operation, gas transit will become less reliant on third parties, thereby lowering the commodity's price. It has been opposed vehemently by politicians in Washington and Kiev, who claim that it will increase Europe's reliance on Russian gas and reduce the continent's energy security.
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the pipe was ready to be switched on and send natural gas to the rest of Europe.
"As soon as they [European partners] make a decision on the start of its operation, large additional volumes of Russian gas will immediately flow to Europe," he said.