Read the original text at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
This Tuesday, the US House of Representatives might adopt a draft law that would spoil relationships between the United States and the European Union for a long time. This law should toughen sanctions against Russia, which is suspected of interfering in the American elections.
The first version of the law has received an overwhelming majority of votes in the Senate - 97 out of 100 possible.
The main motive for this law is the desire to find Russian trace in the victory of American President Donald Trump. This is understandable after Trump's election team was suspected of collaborating with the Russian government, and the president himself did not take any stiff position with regard to Russian manipulation.
However, this bill has serious side effects. First, he declares a "one-sided" approach in the sanctions policy. Until recently, the United States and the EU have coordinated their actions on sanctions against Russia, which came into effect after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
The idea of a joint approach was that American firms that were prohibited from doing business in Russia, because of sanctions were not replaced by European firms that could take advantage of such a beneficial moment. Thus, it was necessary to prevent the replacement of Americans by Europeans. These consultations, so reasonable for both sides, are obviously no longer envisaged. Now the Americans want to decide everything themselves.
This draft law also wants to put under sanctions those businesspersons from the other countries that conduct relations with Russian partners. This is notorious and, at the same time, alarming readiness of US lawmakers to extend their competence beyond the borders of the state.
One of the clearly expressed goals in this bill is the Nord Stream-2 pipeline. This pipeline should deliver Russian natural gas to Germany. For a long time, US foreign policy had doubts about this pipeline. Even under President Barack Obama, the US politicians agitated to ban it. From the American point of view, it strengthens the EU's dependence on Russia and weakens its important partners - Poland and Ukraine, which have a strong lobby in Washington.
This law would put the EU in front of some fait accompli. We should not forget about economic aspiration of the United States to become an exporter of energy raw materials, including liquefied natural gas. This bill explicitly articulates this goal, namely, it promotes US gas exports and creates work places. Rarely, US lawmakers have so clearly articulated the fact that national commercial interests are more important to them than fruitful cooperation with the European Union.
The Americans also emphasize that this pipeline would increase dependence on Russia and thereby threaten European energy security. The EU, of course, has good reasons to take part in the diversification of Europe's energy supply. Nevertheless, that is exactly what it does. So, for example, the EU took part in financing the construction of terminals for processing liquefied natural gas. Thus, American firms also get a chance in the European market. This pipeline is very controversial within the European Union for various reasons. And this discussion should take place in Europe. The United States have no competence when it comes to the development of European energy security. They need to worry about their own affairs.
Until now, liquefied gas from America has not played a role in Europe, because the US laws have hampered its export. In addition, it was still just too expensive. If Americans want to offer a competitive product, they could now sell it in Europe.
The latest version of this bill has not yet been published. However, the hopes that Trump will block him with a veto will “evaporate.” Trump is convinced that there is a threat that the congress will have enough votes to overcome the veto. In his opinion, the latest version of the bill provides more freedom of action in the sanctions policy.
However, Europeans should not hope for themselves because Trump is very sympathetic to US energy concerns and has a plan to make America an export giant in terms of this sector. Thus, he will have to agree with the fragment of the law, which is aimed at the Russian pipeline. The friendship between America and Europe has bad perspectives.
WINAND VON PETERSDORFF