MEPs vote to dismiss Russia as ‘strategic partner’
The European Parliament, which faces a major potential populist shakeup after the May elections, has voted in favour of a resolution saying Russia could no longer be regarded as a strategic partner of the European Union.
It called on the European Council, which represents the 28 member states, to reconsider the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
“The European Parliament underlines that Russia’s illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea, a region of Ukraine, its direct and indirect involvement in armed conflicts in the eastern part of Ukraine and its continuous violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia and Moldova constitute a deliberate violation of international law, democratic principles and fundamental values,” the parliamentary report said.
MEPs also adopted a resolution expressing the need to stop the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which is opposed by Poland, the three Baltic states, Ukraine and the US.
But the Vyborg to Lubmin pipeline is due for completion later this year and has overcome most of its technical hurdles.
The MEPs’ report said: “The European Parliament stresses that the EU is currently Russia’s largest trading partner and will keep its position as key economic partner for the foreseeable future, but that Nord Stream 2 reinforces the EU’s dependence on Russian gas supplies, threatens the EU internal market and is not in line with EU energy policy or its strategic interests, and therefore needs to be stopped.”
The parliamentary resolution was written by MEP Sandra Kalniete from Latvia, which opposes Nord Stream 2.
Maros Sefcovic, vice president of the European Commission and a critic of Nord Stream 2, also said he could not find a commercial reason for doubling the capacity of the original Nord Stream pipeline, with which the new pipeline runs almost parallel.
Germany is the world’s biggest natural-gas importer and BASF, the German chemicals giant and investor in Nord Stream 2, on its own consumes more natural gas than the whole of Denmark.
The parliamentary report was supported by 402 MEPs, with 163 members voting against the resolution and 89 abstaining.
Germany’s industrial economy will become increasingly reliant on gas in the next few years as it abandons nuclear power and begins to close its many coal-powered plants.
Germany already has Europe’s highest non-household electricity prices.
The US strongly opposes Nord Stream 2 and calls on the EU to instead buy its LNG, extracted by the environmentally ruinous process of fracking.
“We do not think, fundamentally, that there is a need for the pipeline,” said US Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. “Russia will use this as leverage over Europe.”
Russian gas supplied by Gazprom is vital for Germany’s economy. Picture credit: YouTube