EU tentative deal could affect Russia-Germany gas pipeline

FILE - In this May 8, 2017 photo steel pipes for the North Stream 2 pipeline are stacked in Mukran harbour in Sassnitz, Germany. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP, file)

BRUSSELS — The European Union's main institutions have agreed on a tentative deal that will increase the bloc's role in managing a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany amid concerns about the region's dependence on Russian energy.

The EU Commission said Wednesday that the agreement with the member states and the EU parliament will tighten regulation and oversight and impose tougher conditions.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has stirred debate as Germany looks to source energy as it phases out nuclear and coal production. France had wanted the EU to have a greater say in its management and found a compromise with Germany last week.

The United States, which wants to sell its liquefied natural gas to Germany and other European countries, has called the pipeline a form of Russian control over Germany and a threat to European energy security.

EU Energy Commissioner Arias Canete said "that everyone interested in selling gas to Europe must respect European energy law."

European Parliament rapporteur Jerzy Buzek said that "with today's deal, all future gas pipelines from non-EU countries, including Nord Stream 2, will have to abide by EU rules."

Under the draft deal, EU member states have less power to broker deals with non-EU nations and the EU Commission will have more oversight and power to judge whether a deal threatens competition or the region's energy security.

Once the new regulations are finalized, experts say they will subject Russia's state-controlled gas company, Gazprom, to EU regulations on the pipeline, and will not allow it to be its sole operator.

The deal must now be formally approved by the legislature and EU member states, but that is not expected to be a problem.

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Dave Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.

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