Weber to block Nord Stream 2 if chosen as EU chief executive

As the head of the EU Commission, I will use all available laws to block Nord Stream 2, he promised

Photo: EPA Manfred Weber, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament and lead candidate for next EU Commission president.

The lead candidate for Europe’s conservative bloc in next month’s EU elections Manfred Weber said he would try to stop the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline if he becomes European Commission president, according to an interview published Tuesday..

“I am against the Nord Stream 2 project. It’s not in the interest of the European Union,” the German told Polish newspaper Polska Times, adding that it will otherwise "increase the dependence of the EU on Russian gas and not decrease it."

"And we need more independence, not dependence on Russian gas,” the lead candidate of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) for the May EU elections continued. “That’s why, as the president of the Commission, I will use all legal instruments available… and check all the opportunities to stop NS2.”

Such position is not new. Weber, as leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament, has been consistent with his fellow conservative MEPs in opposing Nord Stream 2. Yet, it goes against that of the German government, which is the main beneficiary of the construction of the pipeline project spearheaded by Russia’s state energy firm Gazprom, in part due to the economic benefits it can bring.

“I’m not the German candidate for the head of the European Commission, but a candidate for the European People’s Party,” he said in response to a question on his differing position.

The controversial €11bn new energy link between Russia and Germany is to run under the Baltic Sea and set to double Russian gas shipments to the EU’s biggest economy. But plans have sparked concerns about Western Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, as well as Moscow’s ability to pressure Ukraine as Europe will be less reliant on the country for transiting supplies.

Ukraine, the United States and many countries in eastern and central Europe are opposed to the pipeline, which is set to be completed by the end of this year. Crews have already completed more than two-thirds of the 1,230-kilometre steel-and-concrete pipeline through the maritime territories of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Denmark, however, has recently raised obstacles that risk delaying the project.
This means that the pipline would not be completed by the end of 2019, as initially expected. Instead it now appears that the project will be completed in 2020 at the earliest, even if everything goes according to plan.

Meanwhile, the new Commission president is expected to take office on 1 November 2019. If the new Commission decides to change tactics and adopt a more political approach, it would probably find an ally with the European Parliament to stop the Gazprom-led project.

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