Brussels — The European Parliament has called for Russia's planned 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 natural gas link to Germany to be cancelled in a non-binding resolution adopted late Wednesday.
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European Parliament's resolution has no legal force
55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 due online by end-2019
EU mulling new operating rules for offshore links
The resolution has no legal force but reinforces the parliament's long-standing opposition to what it sees as a "political project" intended to undermine Ukraine's position as a key Russian gas transit partner for the EU.
Russia plans to bring both Nord Stream 2 and its 31.5 Bcm/year TurkStream pipeline to Turkey online by the end of 2019, after which it will be able to cut flows to the EU via Ukraine from some 94 Bcm in 2017 to just 10-15 Bcm/year from 2020.
The European Commission, which is also a vocal critic of Nord Stream 2's expected impact on Ukraine, has proposed changing the EU's gas directive to apply internal energy market rules to offshore gas links with non-EU countries.
If approved into law -- which is not guaranteed -- these proposals could see Nord Stream 2 having to submit to transparent, non-discriminatory tariff regulation for the EU section of the pipeline, for example.
That could make it easier for Ukraine to know what transit tariffs to offer in order to compete more successfully with Nord Stream 2 from 2020.
Both the parliament and the EU Council, representing the 28 national governments, have to agree a common text before the EC's proposals can become law.
The parliament adopted its negotiating position in March, in which it backed the EC's proposals and called for any agreed waivers from the rules to be limited to five years.
The parliament is now waiting for the council to agree a negotiating position so that informal talks can start between them on a final text.
The council, however, is strongly divided over the EC's proposals, with roughly a third in favor, a third against and a third as yet uncommitted, with no clear way forward, according to an EU diplomatic source.
The latest compromise council text allows waivers of up to 20 years, renewable for existing pipelines. The council is also considering expanding this to pipelines under construction, which would include Nord Stream 2.
The parliament is likely to push hard against Nord Stream 2 being eligible for waivers, if and when informal talks with the council start.
There is no legal deadline or obligation for the council to adopt a negotiating position, and the proposals could languish indefinitely without a specific outcome.
--Siobhan Hall, email@example.com
--Edited by Jonathan Loades-Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org