The decision to build Nord Stream 2 was Chancellor Angela Merkel’s biggest mistake, Donald Tusk said on Sunday during a conference on the future of the European Union.
“From the point of view of the interests of the European Union, Nord Stream 2 is a bad project,” the former European Council president pointed out, adding that Angela Merkel, who stepped down as German chancellor in December this year, was helpless in the face of the lobbying power of domestic entrepreneurs. “She admitted this during one of our talks,” – he said. He also pointed out that Germany’s continued readiness for energy cooperation with Russia is one of Germany’s problems and “one of Merkel’s biggest mistakes”.
“I did everything to make the Union independent from Russian gas supplies, including by setting up an energy union, i.e. a community mechanism for buying gas,” he – the former prime minister recalled. However, he pointed out that many member states were not interested in “creating common resistance to the construction of Nord Stream 2”. The countries that had no objections to the project, he enumerated, included the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary, while the Czech Republic, among others, emphasised its neutrality.
Asked about the issue of the dispute with the Czech Republic over the Turow mine, he said the solution would be to build a water pipeline for Czech towns and villages currently facing water shortages.” This would be cheaper than the costs we already have to bear” – he pointed out.
Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, routed along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It bypasses Poland and Belarus, among other countries, as well as Ukraine. In recent days, the German regulator, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), decided to suspend Nord Stream’s certification. As a spokesman for the Polish coordinator’s minister Stanislaw Żaryn wrote on Twitter, “This decision was signalled by the German side to the Russian entity. It is strictly procedural and does not mean a change of policy regarding the German-Russian gas pipeline.”
In February this year, the Czech Republic filed a complaint to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) against Poland in the Turów lignite mine case. They also requested an order – as an interim measure – to stop production at the mine. The complaint was filed in connection with the expansion of the mine, which Prague claims threaten the water access of residents in the surrounding municipalities. They also complain about noise and dust associated with lignite mining.
In May, the CJEU, in response to a Czech request, ordered an immediate halt to coal mining at Turow. The Polish government announced that the mine would continue to operate and began talks with the Czech side. On 20 September, the EU Court decided that Poland must pay the European Commission a fine of €500,000 per day for failing to implement interim measures and stop lignite mining at the mine.