The recent meeting between US President Donald Trump and Italian PM Giuseppe Conte has reaffirmed their plans to complete a pipeline that will bring Azeri gas to Italy. Despite the probability of delay in the completion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) due to Italian environmental local opposition, the project is of strategic importance since it continues further abandonment of Russian gas dependency.
The EU energy policy highly focuses on sustaining and diversifying the gas supplies. In other words, all efforts are taken to wean Europe off Russian gas. This is not, however, the practice widely implemented amongst the EU countries.
Germany agreed to build a new pipeline route (Nord Stream 2), to already existing one, directly connecting the Ust-Luga area near Saint Petersburg with Greifswald in north-eastern Germany through the Baltic Sea. The project would double the amount of gas effectively imported to Germany and, therefore, make the country more reliant on the supply. The Nord Stream 2, Germany believes, is considered as a purely economic matter and does not carry out any risk of larger dependence on Russia. In fact, Moscow is fully dependent on exporting gas than the other way round.
It is difficult to believe that the pipeline would not result in influencing European affairs, in particular, East European governments. Owing to the fact that the pipeline will be directly supplying Germany, it would be easier to shut off the remaining pipelines leading through the Central and East European countries as we have already learnt on the Ukrainian example back in 2014.
Since the Nord Stream 2 bypasses countries such as Poland and Slovakia, the Eastern EU countries will be left with no opportunity to collect gas fees. What is even more important, when the gas supplies are cut off by the Russian government, the buyers in the Western European countries are also inevitably hurt.
By ignoring the interest of its allies, Germany steps back from the alternative supply sources. Even though Europe might benefit economically due to cheaper gas prices, there is no doubt that it will, simultaneously, suffer politically. Since the new pipeline is to circumvent Ukraine, the country will be more vulnerable to Russia. To put it simply, transit via Ukraine is essential to provide stability in the country and the whole EU.
It could be argued that regardless of the common energy policy, Germany pursues its own economic interest. Opposing to the EU energy policy, Germany gives a free way to monopolise gas supply in the EU leaving Gazprom in a dominant position on the market. The EU alongside the US stand in opposition, yet, the project is long underway.