Merkel ‘under pressure’ to put Nord Stream 2 on hold says expert
The European Union has spent almost €5 (£4.3) billion on gas projects since 2013, of which €440 (£380) million were splurged on plans that were later cancelled or failed to deliver on original promises. The eye-watering figure was unveiled by a new study published on Monday by Global Witness, an international NGO.
The research found that of the 41 gas projects the EU funded since 2013, seven have either been cancelled or put on hold.
The majority of that sum, €430 (£371) million, was invested on a gas project aimed at connecting Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria to gas reserves in the Black Sea.
In a bid to reduce its reliance on Russian gas, the bloc splurged the vast sum of money on the so-called BRUA pipeline.
A section of the pipeline was completed in November 2020 but is located only in Romania and does not reach the Black Sea.
EU news: The EU has spent €440 million on failed gas projects (Image: GETTY)
EU news: The Brua pipeline has been put on halt (Image: GETTY)
None of the neighbouring countries have seen pipeline works start since the project was first launched.
Plans to extend it to Hungary were cancelled in April 2020.
It comes as Germany renewed its commitment to Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a gas project that will connect Vladimir Putin’s Russia to the bloc.
The scheme will run across the Baltic Sea and will establish a direct link between Russian hydrocarbon giant Gazprom and consumers in Europe.
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Promoters of the scheme say it will allow a highly reliable supply of Russian gas to Europe.
The scheme has been strongly criticised by Poland and Ukraine as an attempt to sabotage “Europe’s energy security”.
The foreign ministers of the two countries said: “We respect Germany’s right to express their point of view.
“But we also strongly believe that these kinds of projects cannot be viewed narrowly through the lens of bilateral relations.
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EU news: Hungary cancelled its plan to join the BRUA gas pipeline (Image: GETTY)
“They should instead be approached from a broader perspective of Europe’s interests and security as a whole.”
Last week, Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said the project should be paused until Russia’s parliamentary elections in September to pressure Moscow for democratic reforms and as a compromise between its European supporters and critics.
He said: “The freeze could be a compromise.
“We do not propose to cancel the project, only to pause it.
EU news: Merkel has been urged to pause her Nord Stream 2 project with Russia (Image: GETTY)
“And to continue it when we are dealing with a democratically elected Russian government. This can actually increase support for the pipeline”.
The link is designed to export gas from Russia directly to Germany by bypassing Ukraine, through which Russia has sent gas to Europe for decades.
That would deprive Ukraine of lucrative transit fees and potentially undermine its struggle against alleged Russian aggression.
The operating company of Nord Stream 2, which is 94 percent complete, resumed laying pipes in Danish waters this month.
Putin said this week that Russia needed to ensure that its elections are free from foreign meddling (Image: PA)
A Danish maritime regulator has said the work was due to be finished by the end of April.
Mr Landsbergis added: “If we reward Russia with gas contracts for repressing the opposition, it doesn’t send the right signal to Russia, and it fragments European unity.”
President Putin said this week that Russia needed to ensure that its parliamentary elections scheduled for September are free of foreign meddling, following mass protests calling for the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Opposition activists and European observers questioned the legitimacy of the parliamentary elections in 2016 in which Mr Putin’s ruling United Russia party took three-quarters of the seats and liberal opposition parties failed to win a single seat.