Compromise in row over Nord Stream 2

Germany has prevented a revision of the EU gas pipeline directive that could have stopped the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Paris had indicated it would back tougher rules, putting pressure on Berlin to negotiate a compromise that imposes certain restrictions on the pipeline. Has Germany lost credibility while Russia carries on regardless?

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Deutsche Welle (RO) /

Berlin alienating all its allies

Trust in Germany, which has already declined, is diminishing even further, the Romanian service of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle observes:

“With Nord Stream the Federal Republic is gambling away the little political capital it still had after the crisis of 2008. ... Ever since then Berlin has experienced a constant and pernicious mistrust - on the part of both the West and the East. This distrust has taken hold not just in France. It is growing not just in the US. It also has the Eastern Europeans in its grip, not a few of whom are still hypersensitive when it comes to the Bismarck tradition, to German-Russian relations that are conducted over their heads and against the interests of the small and medium-sized states that lie between Germany and Russia.”

Trud (BG) /

Putin won't wait for Europe

Much gas will have flowed through Nord Stream 2 before the Europeans agree on a gas directive, Trud predicts:

“It could be that the Europeans will delay work on the gas directive until the EU Parliament elections in May, and perhaps even longer. Long enough for Gazprom to secretly complete the pipeline and turn on the gas tap before the end of the year - an tried and tested tactic for pre-empting European regulations. After the EU ambassador's decision on Friday Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Russia would continue to work towards completing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is in the interest of all EU states and the safest way of supplying Europe with gas. As the saying goes: 'The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.'”

Ria Novosti (RU) /

Why Macron's veto failed

Ria Novosti lists three reasons why Macron was unable to get his way regarding the pipeline:

“Clearly Macron has his back to the wall because of the yellow vest protests and France's economic problems. ... As the Americans rightly say, you shouldn't annoy your banker. And Germany is to all intents and purposes the only 'banker' in the EU. Nord Stream 2 will be built, barring any unforeseeable political or economic surprises. And the 'Macron case' has shown that Germany is ready to defend this project very actively. That's a good sign for the Russian pipeline as well as for Russian-German relations.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Berlin back to reality with a bump

Rzeczpospolita sees Germany in a weaker position after the confrontation in the EU over Nord Stream 2:

“Once again Germany was forced to vigorously defend the Russian gas pipeline, contrary to the obvious interests of other EU countries. At the same time Paris reminded the Germans of the hard facts, namely that France and Germany currently hold the blocking minority for obstructing decisions in the EU. In other words, on really important issues Germany needs Paris for a majority in the EU. The issue of the gas directive was therefore a lesson and a reminder that Germany will not be the 'king' of Europe in the EU after what is shaping up to be a hard Brexit.”

Spiegel Online (DE) /

Germany stubborn and heavy-handed

Spiegel Online is highly critical of Berlin's crisis management in the case of Nord Stream 2:

“The German government may have underestimated just how stiff the resistance to the pipeline plans in the EU would be. Perhaps it found some of the objections exaggerated and the reactions, from Poland for example, rather hysterical - and not entirely without reason. Whether the pipeline is built or not, Germany's image in the EU has suffered considerably. Berlin has been too stubborn and heavy-handed and will have to pay a high price for this now. Not economically, but politically.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Don't undermine European solidarity

The liberal MEP Urmas Paet would have preferred a different outcome, as he writes in Eesti Päevaleht:

“To create more security and energy independence for the EU it's important that Germany changes its policy, stops blocking the EU gas directive and aligns with the EU Commission and Parliament. This is very important for Europe's unity on security and energy policy. ... The profit generated by Nord Stream 2 goes mainly to the Kremlin, Gazprom and a few European companies. But it's Germany and the other EU countries who bear the political risk. Germany shouldn't put the economic interests of a few companies above the interests and values of Europe as a whole because that will undermine European solidarity.”