Nord Stream 2: no gas for now

The start-up of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, which was completed in September, has been delayed after Germany's Federal Network Agency suspended its certification on the grounds that the operator of the pipeline must be "organised in a legal form under German law". Europe's press is divided: is this a mere formality, or is Berlin using the situation to make a U-turn?

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Polityka (PL) /

Germany needs this fuel

This is not the beginning of a turnaround, Polityka clarifies:

“Those hoping that NS2 will be permanently shut down are mistaken. ... Germany is especially interested in Russian gas because it needs more and more of it. The country is taking the energy transition very seriously and wants to phase out coal, which features large in its energy mix, as well as nuclear energy. At the same time, the expansion of renewables requires gas as a reserve in case there is not enough wind and sun. We [Poland] are in a similar situation and also believe in gas. But only if it's not Russian gas. We'll see who is proven right in the end.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Pipeline a weapon in Moscow's hands

The Süddeutsche Zeitung predicts that the objection of the Federal Network Agency won't stop the project from going ahead:

“A few hours of overtime for the company's lawyers, the necessary staff, and that's it. ... . But what is even more significant is that the actual purpose of the regulations [the organisational separation of the network and operations, which is supposed to ensure that others can also use the pipeline] is likely to come to nothing. ... At the other end it's always the same person filling the pipe - Gazprom. So once again this case only demonstrates Europe's excessive dependence on Russian gas. This pipeline is a strategic weapon in Moscow's hands. It can only be defused by decreasing demand.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Rule-loving Germans prefer to freeze

Radio Kommersant FM explains how people in Russia see the Germans' preoccupation with formalities:

“Your laws are your business, you come up with them. But you don't want to freeze over the winter so don't step on the cat's tail. Especially since we also have formal reasons for not having to supply more gas. The problem should be solved on the basis of the real situation - which is that it will soon be winter and gas prices will hit record levels. What's more, our mutual friend Lukashenka is threatening to close his section of the Yamal-Europe pipeline. So it's in your interest to get a move on with certification. But apparently in Germany the motto is: Sorry, rules are more important to us than the prospect of freezing to death.”

Expressen (SE) /

Stand up to Putin and stop the project

The new German government should make a radical turnaround for security policy reasons, Expressen urges:

“Europe must break free from its dependence on Russian gas. Germany must make a dramatic last-minute U-turn, keep its six existing nuclear reactors and prevent the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from going into operation. Otherwise we'll have to get used to Putin destabilising the EU with ever new crises.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Berlin must protect Ukraine

In The Daily Telegraph, Former British defence secretary Michael Fallon also argues that Germany needs to renounce Nord Stream 2:

“The Ukrainians don't need blankets: they want counter-battery radar, anti-tank missiles, more drones, offensive cyber. ... We should be helping to build up defensive capability and resilience right across Ukraine ... We have to persuade our German friends that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline directly undermines Ukrainian security, and that Berlin's suspension of its certification should now lead to complete cancellation. Nord Stream 2 will damage Ukraine's economy with much lower revenues from transit gas, and it will place a Russian stranglehold on supplies to Ukraine itself.”