Manfred Weber, the lead candidate for Europe’s conservative EPP bloc in the upcoming EU Parliament elections, said that he would try to stop the Nord Stream 2 project if he becomes European Commission President – “I am against the Nord Stream project” – he made it clear. “It will increase the dependence of the EU on Russian gas and not decrease it. And we need more independence not dependence on Russian gas,” Mr. Weber stressed and added that he would deploy al legal instruments available “and check all the opportunities to stop NS2”.
He nevertheless admitted that the project was already at an advanced stage but “I will try to do my best”. Two thirds of the 1,230-kilometer steel-and-concrete pipeline have been completed already. The controversial 11 billion-euro new pipeline between Russia and Germany is poised to double Russian exports to Germany, the EU’s biggest economy. This is concerning for many EU members, Ukraine as well as the United States since it will amplify Europe’s reliance on Russian resources and it will also have geopolitical implications for the conflict in Ukraine.
There are fears that the Kremlin will be able to exert more pressure on Kyiv, as Europe will be less reliant on the country for transiting supplies. The project stakeholders – Russia’s giant Gazprom and Western oil companies – had hoped to finalize the pipeline by the end of 2019. With the delays, the completion seems to have been shifted to 2020 at the earliest, if there are no disruptions. In November 2019, a new Commission President will take office, which might potentially bring some changes.