German coalition SPLINTERING: Huge row about to explode just weeks into new term

EU: Guy Verhofstadt calls to ‘reconsider’ Nord Stream 2

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All eyes are on Olaf Scholz, whose recent accession to German chancellorship is said to have marked the beginning of a new era following almost 20 years of Angela Merkel rule. After just a matter of weeks, the three parties which make up the new German Government are at loggerheads over new entry pipelines from Russia to the EU.

The Green Party, which officially formed a coalition with the SDP and the Free Democrats earlier this month, believes the Nord Stream 2 project should be suspended if Russia attacks Ukraine.

This follows the gathering of tens of thousands of Russian troops along the Ukraine border.

The Kremlin has insisted it does not plan to enter the conflict in Ukraine but will defend its red lines on the country, such as its membership (or lack thereof) of Nato.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, also the leader of the Greens in Brandenburg, told ZDF TV earlier this month the situation on the Ukraine border was “a factor” in the country’s support or rejection of the pipeline.

She said: “The last Government discussed with the Americans that if there are further escalations this pipeline can’t come on line.”

This stance contrasts that of the Mr Sholz’s SDP, which has been a supporter of the pipeline.

He told an EU Summit last week the question of the pipeline must not be linked to the Ukraine conflict.

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Quoted in Der Tagesspiegel, he said the pipeline, currently under review, was a “private-sector project”.

Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer told the paper this response was “sheepish”.

He said: “Nobody would be able to explain the pipeline going into operation while Ukraine is exposed to increased Russian aggression.”

Green defence politician Agnieszka Brugger added: “It would be wrong right now to rule out an end to this project in the event of an attack on Ukraine.”

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Christine Lambrecht, German Defence Minister and SDP politician, called for stricter sanctions against Russia but did not mention the question of Nord Stream 2 in a recent interview with Bild am Sonntag.

Construction of Nord Stream 2, which is owned by Gazprom, has completed but the pipeline has yet to receive approval to operate.

The line would increase the EU’s dependence on Russia for energy supplies.

Reports suggest it would double the capacity of undersea routes from Russia to Europe.

The completion process hit another roadblock last month when Germany’s energy regulator said the project did not comply with EU law.

Nord Stream 2 is looking to remedy the policy clash.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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