Berlin and Paris bury hatchet over controversial Russian gas pipeline

A man looks into a tube representing a natural gas pipeline at the booth of Nord Stream at the Hanover industrial fair in Hanover Germany

A man looks into a tube representing a natural gas pipeline at the booth of Nord Stream at the Hanover industrial fair in Hanover Germany

Under the compromise, which threatened to open a rift between the EU's two most powerful countries, Berlin will remain the lead negotiator on the project.

"As for the EU Gas Directive, we agreed, and this became possible because Germany and France cooperated closely with each other", said the German Chancellor at a joint press conference with the President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Berlin and Paris has settled their dispute regarding the Nord Stream 2 and reached a tradeoff on amendments to the EU Gas Directive, suggesting their new version not blocking the pipeline project, AFP news agency reported on Friday, citing the received German-French draft of the accommodating paper.

"If we want to have more strategic autonomy in this environment, then why should we make an exception on energy security?", the Nord Stream 2-critical European Union diplomat said. While countries like Romania, Poland or the Baltic states warn North Stream 2 would only increase Europe's dependency on Russian gas, Germany strongly supports the project.

France, a pivotal player in the EU gas talks, had said earlier it would support European Union oversight of new offshore energy pipelines, a move that could have crippled plans for the undersea pipeline between Russian Federation and Germany.

Some among them were happy that the gas directive was moving after being stuck in European Union talks since November 2017 despite the looser wording.

Additionally, if the European Commission sees the directive as giving Europe leverage to secure agreements with Russian Federation about gas transiting Ukraine in other pipelines, it could backfire, and make Moscow less willing to concede to a longer-term agreement on that, she said.

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The newer draft, seen by Reuters, suggests Berlin is looking to take the lead on authorising the pipeline, which will run from Russian Federation directly to Germany.

The European Commission has voiced criticism of the pipeline project as it runs counter to the aims of European energy independence.

Other western countries will be linked to Nord Stream 2 via Germany.

The draft compromise sought to tackle concerns over Ukraine saying: "We consider a (gas rules) directive in this spirit indispensable for a fruitful discussion on the future gas transit through Ukraine".

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has always been a proponent of the pipeline, responded to the Nord Stream 2 criticism on Friday. This could have consequences for Nord Stream 2. She said this on Friday, February 8, in Berlin. Merkel earlier on Thursday reiterated her support for the pipeline.

Eastern European countries like Poland and Ukraine have vehemently objected to the project because they say it specifically bypasses their territories.

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is chairman of Nord Stream's shareholders committee.

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