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European Parliament makes new call for Nord Stream 2 gas link to be halted

Highlights

New resolution in response to Navalny case, military build-up

Calls for oil, gas import ban if Russian invades Ukraine

Parliament resolutions non-binding on EU, member states

The European Parliament has again called for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project to be halted, at least the third such move since August following the poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

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In a resolution approved April 29 with 569 votes in favor, 67 against and 46 abstentions, the parliament called on the EU to "reduce its dependence on Russian energy."

The new, non-binding advisory resolution was approved in light of the treatment of Navalny, the recent military build-up of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine, and the 2014 attack on an arms depot in the Czech Republic.

The resolution "urges the EU institutions and all member states to stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline."

The Parliament called for Nord Stream 2 to be halted in August last year after Navalny was poisoned, and again in January after his arrest in Moscow, but the resolutions have not led to any action by the EU or member states.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly backed Nord Stream 2 despite the Navalny case and the Russian military build-up, saying earlier this month that the EU had taken a joint position on the project through the revised Gas Directive.

Energy imports

The Parliament also called for even more severe measures to be taken against Moscow should Russia launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including a ban on oil and gas imports.

"If such a military build-up were in the future to be transformed into an invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, the EU must make clear that the price for such a violation of international law and norms would be severe," it said in the resolution.

"The [Parliament] insists, therefore, that in such circumstances imports of oil and gas from Russia to the EU be immediately stopped, while Russia should be excluded from the SWIFT payment system, and all assets in the EU of oligarchs close to the Russian authorities and their families in the EU need to be frozen and their visas cancelled," it said.

The EU relies heavily on imports of gas from Russia, and to a lesser extent oil.

In 2020, it imported from Russia around 156 Bcm of gas and LNG, or 48% of its total imports, according to European Commission data.

It also imported 970,000 b/d of Russian crude, equivalent to around 24% of EU imports, according to the latest EC data from 2019.

Halting imports would likely therefore cause material damage to the EU's own interests. Parliament resolutions are non-binding and advisory in nature.