The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) may reject Germany's appeal against the ruling to restrict the use by Russia's Gazprom of the OPAL gas pipeline's capacity, which may restrict gas pumping bypassing Ukraine.
"According to Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona, the principle of energy solidarity can be used to review the lawfulness of acts of the EU institutions in energy-related matters. The appeal brought by Germany against the judgment of the General Court which annulled the 2016 Commission Decision amending the conditions for access to the OPAL pipeline must therefore be dismissed," the court said in a press release published on its website on March 18.
Advocate General's Opinion before the CJEU is not a final ruling, but usually the Court confirms it.
European Commission's decision and its implications
The European Commission's decision of October 28, 2016 allowed Russia's Gazprom to supply more gas through the OPAL pipeline, which connects its Nord Stream pipe with Germany. It allowed Gazprom to fully load Nord Stream to supply gas to Germany and the Czech Republic. Before that, the Russian side used half of the pipeline's capacity.
Read alsoTimmermans: Europe doesn't need Nord Stream 2Should the CJEU reject Germany's appeal, it would be a great win for Poland, whose government appealed the European Commission's decision at the CJEU in December 2016.
Poland believes that the decision of the European Commission leads to monopoly on sources and means of gas supply, which "contradicts the principle of diversification of sources, supply routes and risk management of obstacles or interruption of gas supplies."
OPAL is 80% owned by WIGA, Gazprom and Wintershall's joint venture, while the rest is owned by a subsidiary of Germany's concern Uniper.
Nord Stream 2: Background
The Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction and operation of two gas pipeline branches with a total throughput capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It should connect Russia's Ust-Lug and Germany's Greifswald. This new pipeline bypassing Ukraine is to be built next to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
The construction of the pipeline was expected to be completed before the end of 2019.
The pipeline will be 1,220 km long. The project is being implemented by Russia's Gazprom in alliance with European companies – ENGIE, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall. Ukraine stands against the construction of Nord Stream 2 as it will most likely lose its status of a gas transit country, while its potential revenue losses are estimated at US$3 billion annually. The project is also highly criticized by the U.S., Poland, and the Baltic States.
The United States is urging European allies and private companies to halt works on Nord Stream 2, and is preparing broader sanctions against the Russian project in the coming weeks.
The U.S. Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act 2021, which provides for new sanctions against Russia's Nord Stream 2.
On January 7, 2021, a fund was established in Germany to support the completion of the Nord Stream 2 project.
On January 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State notified European companies involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 of the risk of imposing new sanctions.
Read alsoRussia putting lives, ecosystem at risk by ignoring WW2 chemical poisons buried along Nord Stream 2 route – SZRUOn January 18, 2021, the United States warned allies in Europe about its intention to impose sanctions on the Russian ship Fortuna, which is engaged in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
On February 22, 2021, the United States imposed new sanctions on the Russian FORTUNA vessel building Nord Stream 2.
As of February 23, 2021, eighteen European companies at once refused to partake in completing the construction of Nord Stream 2 over fears of U.S. sanctions.
On March 4, 2021, the construction of Nord Stream 2 in Danish waters was extended by late September.