Berlin and Paris bury hatchet over controversial Russian gas pipeline

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

The two major European powers, who both have energy firms invested in the new gas link under the Baltic Sea, were publicly at odds ahead of the EU meeting.

It is trying to look beyond Russian gas - to imports of USA liquified natural gas (LNG) and new pipelines, such as a planned Norway-Poland pipeline via Denmark, that would supply Sweden and other neighbouring states.

EU governments are due on Friday to decide whether to advance the draft European energy legislation.

The EU states have supported the French-German agreement on managing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, AFP reported, citing European diplomats.

"Washington has put enormous pressure on European Union capitals in recent days to prevent Nord Stream 2", the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

European Union member-states have been divided on the pipeline's construction because some of them fear it would make them more dependent on Russian gas, while others said it should come under the bloc's energy rules.

Any delay to Gazprom's push to complete construction of Nord Stream 2 in 2019 could weaken Moscow's hand in those negotiations.

The newer draft, seen by Reuters, suggests Berlin is looking to take the lead on authorising the pipeline, which will run from Russian Federation directly to Germany. Previously, the EU States had agreed on a compromise, after the above Changes to the EU Gas Directive, stricter requirements for the project decided. However, in November 2018, only 69 out of 751 Members of the European Parliament signed a letter against Nord Stream-2.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in Moscow that Washington was spearheading efforts to undermine fair competition.

The draft compromise reportedly addressed the concerns, saying: "We consider a (gas rules) directive in this spirit indispensable for a fruitful discussion on the future gas transit through Ukraine".

The Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian Federation meant to keep working on the project and that the pipeline was the most secure way to deliver gas to Europe.

"It will challenge a certain number of project parameters which will have to provide transit guarantees via Ukraine as well as transit through Slovakia", an official said.

Besides France, opposition has been expressed by Poland and the Baltic countries, who've raised concerns over the alleged danger of Europe becoming dependent on Russian Federation and the subsequent diminished transit role of Ukraine. "Meaning, for gas we do not want to be at all dependent on Russian Federation alone", she said.

Merkel has so far insisted that the pipeline is a "purely economic project" that will ensure cheaper, more reliable gas supplies.

Other European companies involved in the project include the Anglo-Dutch Shell, Austria's OMV and France's Engie. Gas is due to start arriving in Germany by the end of the year.

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