Having taken over the EU presidency at the beginning of the year, Romania has accelerated its works on regulations that might make the construction of Nord Stream 2 more problematic.
Romania aims to overhaul an EU gas directive so that all pipelines, including offshore, on EU territory fall within European law.
This development may be welcomed by Poland, which opposes the construction of the Nord Stream 2 offshore gas pipeline, especially because most of the provisions that Warsaw would like to see included in the overhaul have been taken into consideration.
“The provision that renders it necessary for all new pipelines [on the EU territory] to comply with the EU regulations is crucial. Exemption of Nord Stream 2 from this rule, something that Austria proposed, is not a possibility,” a Polish diplomat in Brussels told Polish public radio.
The diplomat added that the overhaul may win the support of a larger number of EU member states. Until recently, the proponents numbered 10-11 states.
Meanwhile, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria are the most concerned as they see their stake endangered by the overhaul. As a result, they rally around the gas pipeline because the companies that constitute the consortium constructing Nord Stream 2 are located on their territory and may suffer if the construction fails.
Other member states have not voiced their opinions so far. The estimates of the Polish diplomat showed that “neutral support” of Italy, Spain and France would suffice to make the construction of Nord Stream 2 harder to finalise.
Romania will present the fruit of its work on Wednesday, however, the final version of the overhauled directives will depend on the member states’ success at the negotiation table with the European Parliament (EP).
In addition, the pressure of time exists as the overhauled regulations need to be passed before the construction of the pipeline is completed, namely before December 2019. Because of the EP elections coming in May, the overhaul needs to be passed not later than by April.
However, the opponents of Nord Stream 2 may gain more time thanks to Denmark that has not given Russia its permission to lay the pipeline on the Danish seabed yet.