Monday, August 17, 2020

Nord Stream 2: EU-member-states protest against impending sanctions against contractors

 A majority of member states of the bloc has initiated a "démarche" against the threat of sanctions of contractors who perform services to complete the controversial pipeline "Nord Stream 2". 24 member states supported this "démarche" except for 3 member states not otherwise specified, WELT:

"The European Union has almost lunanimously opposed with a sharp protest note against further American interference in the construction of the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2. The wording of the protest note submitted in the US State Department is exclusively available to WELT.

“We can confirm that there was a demarche on August 12th at the invitation of the EU delegation to the US State Department on the American sanctions policy,” said European diplomatic circles at the request of WELT: “24 EU member states took part in the demarche, the took place via video conference. "

The European protest against US interference thus has surprisingly strong support. Although the construction of the Baltic Sea pipeline between Russia and Germany has been criticized by not a few European countries, the European Union is now largely closed in its rejection of US interference. Only three EU countries did not join the protest note. It remained unclear for the time being which countries were involved.

The content of the protest note followed the statement made by EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell on US sanctions policy on July 17th. "We are very concerned about the increasing use of sanctions by the United States against European companies and interests," it says. "The European Union considers the extra-territorial application of sanctions to be a violation of international law."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo extended the US sanctions law to European suppliers and contractors for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline at the end of July. In the following week, direct threatening talks between representatives of US ministries and individual German and European companies followed. Last week, several US senators headed by the Texan Republican Ted Cruz threatened the operators and employees of the German Baltic Sea port of Sassnitz on Rügen with “financial destruction” if they continued to support the construction of the pipeline.

The increasing threats of sanctions from the USA have been observed for a long time, according to the criticism of the 24 EU states - which refer to the cases "Cuba, International Criminal Court and recently the Nord Stream 2 and Turkstream projects".

"As a matter of principle", the European Union defends itself against the application of sanctions by "third countries" against "European companies that pursue a legitimate business". Extraterritorial sanctions are seen as a breach of international law: "European policy should be decided in Europe, not by third countries."

The EU states declared themselves fundamentally ready to pursue a common sanctions policy with the USA on international disputes: "Where common foreign and security policy goals are shared, targeted sanctions coordinated with the partners are of great value," the statement said : "We have seen many positive examples of this and will continue to coordinate." However, recent US policy calls into question a common approach. “Where there are political differences, we are always open to dialogue”, the note reads literally: But that “cannot happen against the background of threats of sanctions”.

When asked by WELT, a spokesman for the US embassy in Berlin said that the US would prefer not to have to resort to sanctions. "We have worked closely with our European allies and partners to build consensus on energy security issues and to recognize that new projects should strengthen, not undermine, European energy security," the spokesman said.

But the US would have to “respond to threats to its national security and foreign policy interests if Russia tries to use its dominant position in the European gas market to politically divide Europe, undermine Ukraine economically, and invest in real diversification of energy supplies Undermine states that are wholly or almost wholly dependent on Russian supplies ”."

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