Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Russia: EU prolongs economic sanctions by six months

Russia: EU prolongs economic sanctions by six months

"We had 13 delegations intervening, with all of them being supportive of the Commission's approach", Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic told Reuters. EU members will vote in autumn on the European Commission's request to negotiate with Russian Federation on behalf of the entire Union.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that she does not see the Commission having any role in the matter.

In private, European Union officials say they hope direct talks with Russia would delay the project past 2019, depriving Russian state gas exporter Gazprom of leverage in talks over transit fees for Ukraine, the current route for most gas supplies to Europe.

New EU negotiations with Russia could delay Nord Stream 2 to post-2019, giving Western-backed Ukraine the upper hand in talks on transit fees for Russian gas passing through to Europe.

On Monday, thirteen countries in the European Union agreed that the #European Commission will be the one to negotiate with #Russia regarding objections to the new Russian gas pipeline (#Nord Stream 2) near Germany, while Berlin strongly opposes this.

German, Austrian, French, and Anglo-Dutch firms - Uniper, Wintershall, OMV, Engie and Shell - are to take part in the project, with Germany and Austria keen to press ahead.

"I am definitely optimistic about getting the mandate, but I know this is just the beginning of the debate". "This is a fundamental point", the Ukrainian minister said. Italy, along with Nordic, Eastern European and Baltic nations, supported EU intervention on the pipeline.

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The project is created to double the amount of gas Russian Federation pumps to Germany via the Baltic Sea.

"This paved the way for the renewal of sanctions for a further six months", a statement said.

The mandate will then have to be approved by a "reinforced qualified majority" vote by member states, a higher than usual threshold of 72 percent of European Union states representing 65 percent of its population.

"It's a divisive measure", one senior official said.

Gazprom and its partners plan to begin implementation of the 10-billion euro Nord Stream 2 pipeline project in April 2018.

Neither the German or the Austrian minister took the floor on Monday, EU sources told Reuters, but Berlin and Vienna recently attacked the United States over its threat to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 investors.

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