Perspectives on Nord Stream 2: Nordics, U.K., Ireland, Belgium & Luxembourg

For my portion of the initial background research on country and regional perspectives on the NS2 pipeline, I have looked into the positions of the following: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, U.K., Ireland, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

SUMMARY:Sweden and Finland are in principle opposed on ecological and security grounds, though they have both approved permits. Denmark is the last country necessary for permits, though if they reject the application NS2 will likely simply be re-routed. The UK is opposed, essentially in line with the US, though not as vocally.

Nordic states:

The Nordic states are particularly relevant for the Nord Stream 2 discussion, since Gazprom argues that the pipeline does not need an authorization from the EU, only from the countries through which the pipeline passes – Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. The basis for this opinion is that Nord Stream 1 did not need EU authorization.

The project has faced opposition from Sweden, Denmark and Finland for ecological reasons. In Sweden and Finland, environmental groups have filed complaints that the pipeline construction documents were inaccurate and incomplete, given that they fail to account for the damage to marine life that building the pipeline may incur. Despite the environmental pushback, and an initial analysis by the Swedish government identifying the pipeline as a security risk, both Finland and Sweden have granted the necessary permits for construction of the pipeline within their jurisdictions. Construction has begun in the Gulf of Finland.

The permitting process is still ongoing in Denmark, which is the last country necessary for the process. Denmark has clear political concerns, and has already passed legislation empowering their parliament to veto the pipeline on security or environmental grounds. However, even if Denmark refuses, Gazprom may simply adjust their route, though that would place the pipeline in a more contentious geographic area closer to Poland.

Norway has publicly remained deliberately neutral on the project, given that they are Russia’s biggest gas competitor.

U.K.:

The U.K. has generally been seen to align with the U.S.’ criticism of the pipeline, albeit less loudly. The U.K. agrees with Trump’s that the pipeline is a mistake on security grounds, given that it would be an economic boon for Russia, perhaps giving the country more opportunity to purchase weapons or offensive capabilities.

Rather than specifically calling for the pipeline to be stopped, the U.K. has said it stands firm with Ukraine and emphasizing the potential impact of reliance on “a malign Russian State.

Backbench Tory opposition to the pipeline comes from Eurosceptic MPs wary of German influence inside Europe. There also fears among Euro-sceptics that the Foreign Office has been holding back from condemning Nord Stream because the UK government does not want to alienate Germany at a sensitive moment in the Brexit talks.

Ireland, Belgium, and Luxembourg:

I have not yet found any notable discussion on perspectives from these countries, so this will be an area for further research.

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