Nord Stream 2 Not A Priority For European Commission, Cañete Tells NGE
According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble proposed in June 2015 to set up new bodies to take over monitoring tasks from the European Commission, allegedly arguing that the EC is increasingly assuming a political role. Some Eastern European experts wrote that if the proposal was accepted, Berlin would have more leeway to pave the way for the Nord Stream 2 project.
In this short interview made on the sidelines of a conference on Wednesday, European Commissioner for Energy Miguel Arias Cañete confirms that the executive body of the European Union does not intend to allow further concessions to the project. His words confirm the European Commission’s position stated in June, when Brussels said that the new pipeline must be built in full compliance with EU legislation. Meanwhile, in the last three months, OMV openly asked for the support of the European Commission, and Gazprom signed a Shareholders’ Agreement on the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with BASF, E.ON, ENGIE, OMV, and Shell.
Cañete, who was just back in Brussels from a short trip to Rome, also said that he does not know whether ENI is set to announce other discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean. All in all, though, his speech during the conference, which was presented by Shell, indicates that he intends to promote cooperation between Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel, while betting on Ukraine, which he described as 'a reliable transit country' during the conference.
In your intervention, you said that Nord Stream 2 project is not a priority for the European Commission.
For sure, for sure.
How are you going to cope with interests within the European Union willing to push forward this project?
We have to follow the European legislation for these kinds of projects. We have to support projects within Connecting Europe Facility, with PCIs, and this is not one of the projects that is of most interest for diversifying sources of supply to the European Union.
You were in Rome today and you also met ENI’s CEO Descalzi. Do you think that, in the near future, ENI and other companies in the region will announce other discoveries, possibly larger, possibly in Cypriot waters?
I am quite happy with the discoveries they have already announced. If they announce other discoveries, that would be better for them to develop an Eastern Mediterranean gas hub.
Sergio Matalucci is an Associate Partner at Natural Gas Europe. He holds a BSc and MSc in Economics and Econometrics from Bocconi University, and a MA in Journalism from Aarhus University and City University London. He worked as a journalist in Italy, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. Follow him on Twitter: @SergioMatalucci