France moves to halt Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Previous wording of the new law on offshore pipelines had said European Union law had to be applied on the "territorial sea of the member states".

"Work is continuing with our partners, especially Germany, on the amendments that could be made to this text", the French Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

Diplomatic sources said earlier that Germany had been pressuring other European capitals to block the new directive.

Combined with the planned TurkStream pipeline across the Black Sea, Nord Stream 2 would mean Russian Federation could bypass Ukraine in providing gas to Europe, robbing Moscow's new foe of transit fees and a major strategic asset.

Construction has already begun, involving companies such as Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, Dutch-British Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV. The 1,200-kilometer (750-mile) undersea pipeline - being constructed by Russia's Gazprom PJSC to bolster German supplies as Norwegian, Dutch and domestic sources dry up - has been pilloried by some of its neighbors and the USA administration.

In a joint op-ed published by Germany's Deutsche Welle, the US ambassadors to Germany, Denmark, and the European Union on February 7 urged EU member states to support the proposed change in the EU regulations.

The proposed new regulations would give the European Commission considerable leverage over Nord Stream 2, if they are adopted.

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"Now that there's a compromise, this will one way or another reinforce the commission", a diplomat from one anti-Nord Stream 2 European Union country said.

The support of France is crucial for the adoption of the changes.

France's decision aligns it more closely with critics of the project, which say it bolsters Europe's reliance on Russian energy and bypasses key partners such as Ukraine. Bulgaria would like to receive Russian gas from Turkish Stream, a project similar to Nord Stream 2, and Hungary plans to import Russian gas transiting via Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania.

"The dependence on Russian gas worries us". Merkel earlier on Thursday reiterated her support for the pipeline. "For that reason, it is important to us to ensure European control so that this dependence does not increase", he said in Paris.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel previously refuted claims that the Nord Stream 2 project would make Berlin dependent on Russian Federation by stating that it will not be the case if her country diversifies its energy suppliers. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has always been a proponent of the pipeline, responded to the Nord Stream 2 criticism on Friday. "I say "no", if we diversify at the same time", Merkel told a news conference in Bratislava.

In the United States, a bipartisan group of senators drafted a resolution calling for the cancelation of the pipeline project, and leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said they would take up the resolution at their next meeting.

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