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EU says it does not need Nord Stream 2, but only Germany can block it

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union does not need the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for its energy security but any decision to stop the project carrying Russian natural gas to Germany would have to come from Berlin, a senior European Commission official said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia , June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

The $11 billion pipeline project led by Russia’s state energy company Gazprom, which is more than 90% complete, would double the capacity of an existing undersea pipeline which bypasses Ukraine and deprives Kyiv of transit fees.

The project pits Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, against central and eastern European nations who say it would increase the bloc’s dependence on Russian gas.

“For the European Union as a whole, Nord Stream does not contribute to security of supply,” Ditte Juul Jorgensen, Director General of the Commission’s energy department, told lawmakers in the European Parliament’s industry committee.

Investments over the last decade in other pipelines, liquefied natural gas import terminals and interconnectors in Europe have already secured enough supply to meet the bloc’s energy needs, she said.

Any decision to halt the project would need to be made by Germany, Juul Jorgensen said.

“Actually stopping the construction would require a decision at national level. It’s not a decision that can be taken at European level,” she said.

Nord Stream 2 has faced increased scrutiny as European relations with Russia have deteriorated over the treatment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

The European Parliament called last month for the EU to stop the pipeline being completed in response to Navalny’s arrest.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers agreed to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin in a mainly symbolic move over the issue.

Despite U.S. sanctions against the pipeline, Berlin has stood by Nord Stream 2, which it says is a commercial project.

(This story adds dropped word “official” in lead)

Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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