On Friday, German daily Die Welt reported in its online edition that many EU member states view U.S. sanctions, in connection with the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, as a breach of international law.
The paper said an EU delegation communicated a diplomatic position, supported by 24 the bloc’s 27 members, to the U.S. State Department on Aug. 12 in a video call.
Contacted by Reuters, the European Commission had no immediate comment.
In an emailed statement, the U.S. embassy in Berlin said it preferred not to use sanctions and favoured cooperation with Europe, but Russia’s dominance in Europe’s gas markets had left it with no choice.
“The United States must act to address the threat to our national security and foreign policy interests,” it said.
Die Welt said diplomatic sources confirmed the call took place and that the written version of the EU’s demarche, or approach, had been circulated.
“We are highly concerned about the increasing use of sanctions by the U.S. against European companies and interests,” the paper quoted the note as saying.
“The EU considers the extraterritorial use of sanctions as a breach of international law,” it said, adding the European companies involved were pursuing legitimate business activities.
The United States has tightened sanctions on the pipeline, designed and led by Russia’s Gazprom and due to start operating in early 2021 to carry gas directly to Germany from Russia.
Five western partners in the 9.5 billion euros ($11.2 billion) project who committed to sharing 50% of the finance and have committed sizeable funds say the gas is needed.
The diplomatic note said the EU shared foreign and security policy goals with the United States and is open to dialogue.
The Nord Stream 2 consortium, based in Switzerland, has knowledge of the EU’s initiative, but would not comment, a spokesman for the group said.
Reporting by Vera Eckert
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