European Union agrees tighter rules for Russian pipeline

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

That will mean charging market prices for gas, rather than Gazprom making its own agreements, and will likely make running the pipeline more expensive in general, said Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in Berlin.

Diplomatic sources had said that Germany had pressured other European capitals to block the new directive. The total cost of the project has been estimated at 9.5 bln euro. The pipeline project will be on the line until the legislation passes.

France's earlier support for giving European Union countries more say in the pipeline project appeared likely to shift the balance away from Germany.

Putting EU energy independence at risk?

On the other hand, the United States, which is itself a major gas producer, was also fuelling concerns that the project would increase Europe's dependence on Russian gas. Eastern European, Nordic and Baltic Sea countries are opposing the 1,225km (760 mile) pipeline, while those in northern Europe, especially Germany, prioritize the economic benefits.

Representatives of the EU's 28 nations endorsed a last ditch German and French proposal to amend some of the language of the new rules on how to regulate the pipeline project.

"I would find it irritating if [French] president [Emmanuel] Macron made common cause with Polish nationalists a few days after the friendship meeting in Aachen", Markus Pieper, a German MEP in chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party, said after the French announcement.

Previous wording of the new law on offshore pipelines had said European Union law had to be applied on the "territorial sea of the member states".

Although Russia accounts for 30 percent of gas imports to Europe, natural gas makes up less than 10 percent of the bloc's overall energy mix. Nord Stream 2 is controlled by the Russian state monopolist Gazprom.

But a French government source had earlier told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that Paris might do it due to "strategic problems" with Russian Federation.

From across the Atlantic, Donald Trump's administration has been lobbying against the pipeline.

"There is no French-German crisis", the spokesman added.

She has said there will be no dependence on Russian Federation if Europe diversifies at the same time.

"As per Article 36 on any exemption, the EC has a final word but, in my view, it would be very hard for the EC to require a significant and arbitrary cap on Nord Stream-2 capacity utilisation to be part of such exemption", Yafimava said, adding that on the contrary, the German NRA would be in a strong position not to introduce such cap because it could say that as most of capacity in European gas pipeline link (EUGAL) has been booked under legally binding contracts and neither the NRA nor the Commission raised objections to the "more capacity" procedure under which it has been done, and it closely mirrored draft CAM NC - Capacity Allocation Mechanisms, it must match NS2 capacity utilisation.

If the proposed regulation musters enough support, negotiations on final draft rules could begin as early as next week.

"That France places the good of European unity over solidarity with Germany is correct", Norbert Roettgen, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the German parliament, said on Thursday.

"But it would not be one-sided dependency".

German businesses are very involved in the pipeline, having invested heavily in the project, which is run by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Bütikofer later released a tweet with the words, "If you can't bang your head through a wall, at some point you should stop charging into it".

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