Russia's Nord Stream Gas Pipeline Threatens EU Unity

Italy is sore over the demise of South Stream, another Russian project to circumvent Ukraine and supply gas to southern Europe, which could have benefited Italy, but was dropped last year after Russia cited difficulties with EU law.

European Vice President for Energy Maros Sefcovic said earlier this month Italy had asked the European Commission to impose the same rules on Nord Stream as it had on South Stream.

"The main reason (Prime Minister Matteo) Renzi held up approval of sanctions rollover was he wanted to ensure discussion of Nord Stream-2," one diplomat said.

Renzi's office in Rome did not respond to requests for comment and a German diplomat said only that Nord Stream was "an entrepreneurial project, in which the German state does not participate".

Traditionally close to Russia, Italy was not a signatory of a letter complaining about Nord Stream that was sent to the Commission last month, calling for summit-level debate on the pipeline, which it said was at odds with EU single energy market law.

The final letter had the backing of Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. An earlier draft also named Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece.

Sefcovic acknowledged receipt of the letter and said the Commission was working on a reply.


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