Handelsblatt (Germany): US sanctions against the “Nord stream — 2” threaten the sovereignty of Europe

Introduced by a group of senators from the Republican and Democratic parties headed by the influential Texan Ted Cruz (Ted Cruz) bill — a new stage in the escalation of the conflict around the project of the pipeline “Nord stream — 2”. This bill can permanently complicate the economic relations between Europe and the United States.

U.S. senators in its latest aggressive initiative called the “Law on the protection of the European energy security,” used military rhetoric. They wrote about “immediate and devastating us sanctions against all who are in any way connected with the construction of the pipeline”.

Specifically this means the following: if the bill is approved, it is adopted in December 2019 by the us Congress sanctions, which so far was directed primarily against ships-pipelayers, much tougher and will apply to all companies involved in the construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline. In this case, the sanctions will fall by more than 120 companies from 12 European countries. Even the German state authorities and officials may become targets.

Technically, Donald trump, Ted Cruz and others fear that Europe will fall into an energy dependence on Russia. But it is possible to argue that Europe in recent years substantially diversified its gas imports. Equipping 35 terminals for liquefied natural gas, the capacity of which corresponds to the four “Northern threads — 2”, today’s Europe is able to cover its demand for gas, including supplies from as far afield as Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.

And the second argument to Americans on what Europe throws in the lurch Ukraine, which most of its state revenue from fees for gas transit, is untenable. The German government last year put a lot of effort for the conclusion of a new Russian-Ukrainian agreement on gas transit. And in the end of last year the contract was signed.

The United States also buy Russian oil

The administration’s actions trump seem especially strange when you consider that the United States are buying large amounts of oil in Russia. Because of the sanctions against Venezuela and Iran, the United States at the end of 2019 monthly imported 20 million barrels of oil from Russia. More U.S. oil is obtained only from Canada.

What lies behind the aggressive actions of the USA? And the fact that, in their opinion, the campaign slogan trump’s “America first” should now work in the energy policy. Makingby boom has transformed the United States into the largest producer of oil and gas in the world. And its liquefied natural gas makingby they are going to sell in Europe.

However, the liquefaction of natural gas and its transportation on the road. As the economic recession caused by a coronavirus, led to the fall in the price of ordinary gas. In the new American doctrine of “energy dominance” lies the true reason for the new sanctions attack, and the question here is not about Europe’s energy security.

The goal of the new sanctions is to increase the sales of American precingular gas and to get rid of Russia as a competitor offering gas at lower prices. “Gas freedom instead of gas from the pipeline” — so they say now in the United States.

The impending tightening of the extraterritorial sanctions rallied the ranks in the German Bundestag. Even those factions which in principle were critical of the pipeline project, see the planning act, the violation of international law and primarily an attack on the sovereignty of Europe.

This aggressive lunge must be countered: it is not about the details of energy policy but of principle. If companies operating in Europe and committed to European law, will arbitrarily imposed sanctions by the United States, it will be an affront to the principle of legal certainty and protection of investments in Europe, that is the real danger for European-American trade relations.

We are convinced that diplomatic restraint has passed. To protect European interests, the German government and the European Union must introduce measures to counter and to consider the introduction of retaliatory sanctions against American shale gas. Only when there is a real danger of introducing serious retaliatory sanctions will have a real chance to resolve the conflict: Donald trump understands only this language.

Especially during the crisis caused by a coronavirus, a trade war is the last thing Americans and Europeans. But a positive partnership is possible only on terms of equality. And they mean including respect for the sovereignty of each of their partners.

Timon Gremmels — member of the Bundestag from Kassel, a member of the Committee on Economics and energy speaker of the SPD faction in the gas policy.

Marcus — Tens- member of the Bundestag from Gelsenkirchen, member of the Committee for economy and energy, European policy spokesman of the SPD parliamentary group on trade policy.