EU gives billions of euros to raise Ukraine's economy and at same time should support Nord Stream-2?

Author : Maroš Šefčovič

Source : 112 Ukraine

When this project was announced, Russia made it clear that it was conceived as a punishment for Ukraine
22:10, 19 March 2018

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Fragment of the interview of Maroš Šefčovič to the Austrian Die Presse

If the Nord Stream-2 pipeline is to be built, then the EU laws on our territory should be applied to it. The best solution would be to discuss how this can be done. It is often heard from project advocates that this gas pipeline is a purely commercial project. But I can say that I have never seen a commercial project, which would involve so many heads of state and government. In the case of Nord Stream-2, it is not just business. This project is of very political and splitting character.

When this project was announced, Russia made it clear that it was conceived as a punishment for Ukraine. Now the EU, on the one hand, with billions of euros helps Ukraine to rebuild economic structures, and on the other, should we support a project that will deprive the country of annual transit fees of two billion? Fortunately, there is agreement in the EU that the transit of gas through Ukraine will have a priority for the EU after 2019. Austria and Germany are of the same opinion. And we hear more and more voices from Russia, who admit that the transit way through Ukraine must be preserved.

For us, the transit of gas through Ukraine is of strategic importance also for reasons of diversification. Some enterprises from the EU are ready to take over transit and ensure compliance with EU regulations and uninterrupted supplies. Development banks are ready to pay for the repair of the pipeline network. This is above all an important signal for Ukraine. And also for all Eastern European members of the EU who pay more for Russian gas than Western Europe, although they are geographically closer.

We want to negotiate the Nord Stream-2, but first it must be clear that in the long run our right will have meaning. It was proposed to change the directive of the EU gas market in order to subordinate offshore pipelines, such as Nord Stream-2, to EU rules. The head of Nord Stream-2, Matthias Warnig, believes that this will kill the project, because then Gazprom will no longer be the owner and supplier. This is not true. There is one reason why we proposed this. We want to clarify that the EU's third energy package is fully applicable to pipelines that pass through the territory of the EU member states. More than half of all EU member states require this change. Or is there another alternative? If the consortium builds this pipeline now, it will very soon receive complaints from EU states, public organizations and enterprises. We propose negotiations, as a result of which at least legal security will be ensured. We must also discuss what the continuation of gas supplies to the EU through Ukraine means.

According to our analysis, in 2030 the EU will consume 400 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. This is roughly the today’s level. And it is known that the gas reserves in the North Sea are running low. Therefore, we will import more from third countries. As a customer who spends one billion euros a day on energy, the EU deserves the best price, the best quality without any political traps. Russia will remain the largest supplier. But along with this there are Norway, Algeria, the first supplies of liquefied gas and what experts call the "new Norway" - large gas fields between Cyprus and Israel. This is our security of supply.

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