EU lawmakers backed draft rules on Wednesday to extend the bloc’s internal energy market laws to offshore gas pipelines such as Russia’s planned Nord Stream 2 link to Germany.
Lawmakers on the European Parliament’s industry committee voted 41 votes to 13 in favor of the European Commission’s proposal, with nine abstentions, according to Reuters.
The vote puts pressure on EU governments to also decide on a proposal on which they have so far failed to agree.
The Commission’s proposal is supported by east European and Baltic countries, which fear the 1,225 km (760 mile) pipeline will undercut EU efforts to reduce dependence on Moscow and EU support for Ukraine by depriving it of gas transit fees.
Read alsoU.S. warns of sanctions against companies engaged in Nord Stream 2The pipeline’s backers, including Germany, oppose the rule change as an attempt to block what they see as a commercial project to pump 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year under the Baltic Sea.
In its current form, the Nord Stream 2 project, fully owned by Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom, does not comply with the EU’s so-called third energy package rules. “It’s too difficult to find a compromise,” one EU diplomat said of the last round of talks among EU nations last week. “It’s likely it won’t go anywhere.”
“Far too often, gas supply has been used as a political weapon,” Jerzy Buzek, a Polish member of the European Parliament, said in a statement. “We cannot disarm the impure intentions of others but we can arm ourselves with full legal clarity and consistency of existing legislation.”
The draft endorsed by Parliament calls for European Union economic sanctions against third countries to be taken into account and any exemption for pipelines to be limited to five years and decided with the input of the Commission and affected member states.