Bratislava, May 28 (TASR) – The European Commission will present for approval to the Council of the EU in the next few days a mandate for itself to engage in talks with Russia on constructing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Commission Vice-president for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic told TASR on the sidelines of the GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava on Sunday.
“In order to resolve a collision between two legal systems, the Russian and European, the European Commission has proposed a specific agreement to put this project in line with European laws and to resolve one sensitive aspect, namely preserving the transit of gas through Ukraine after 2019,” said Sefcovic.
If the mandate is approved by the Council of the EU, talks with Russia will be launched.
“It’s not only the countries of Central and Eastern Europe who are interested in this framework, but also the Scandinavian countries, which must release various permits for constructing pipelines in their territorial waters. We have a major interest in seeing the emergence of a solution that will be in line with European principles and laws,” said Sefcovic.
While some 50 billion cubic metres of gas are expected to be transported through Nord Stream 2 annually, the Commission expects that gas consumption in Europe should rather stagnate in the next few years.
“We can see that the existing infrastructure for the transport of gas from Russia to Europe is used to some 60 percent, including during the last winter, which was one of the coldest as of recently. There’s also the issue of energy security – we wouldn’t like to see 80 percent of Russian gas coming to Europe using a single route, so we have a big strategic interest in preserving the Ukrainian course,” added Sefcovic.
Slovakia is currently one of the chief transit countries for Russian gas to Europe, but the situation has been complicated by disputes between Russia and Ukraine in recent years, which have resulted in Moscow’s considerations to bypass Ukraine.