Questions for Germany on EU’s Russia strategy
Russia is still able to undermine the EU’s ability to take action by offering short-term economic benefits to some of its members.
While EU policies have not weakened Russia’s autocratic regime, the Kremlin has been successful in strengthening authoritarian rule and radical populism in several EU countries.
It is high time to reverse these trends. …
As part of the EU’s revised Russia strategy, France should be well suited to take the lead of countries that would compensate Germany for the losses incurred from cancelling or suspending Nord Stream 2.
The advantages of the proposed measure are obvious: weakening the authoritarian regime in Russia, encouraging Russian civil society, strengthening respect for the EU, and, last but not least, a significant contribution to revitalising EU-US relations.
Americans rightly expect us, Europeans, to make a more substantial and concrete contribution to resolving issues that are critical also for the US.
There is no doubt that Russia’s conduct vis-à-vis the US is one of these issues. It is true that the imposition of US sanctions against companies involved in Nord Stream 2, with bipartisan support in Congress, might still force those companies to abandon the project.
But this would complicate Transatlantic renewal with the Biden administration because even opponents of the pipeline in Europe are appalled at the prospect of direct US sanctions against European firms.
Better to prevent such a development by the German government’s clear abandonment of political support for Nord Stream 2.
Another important effect of common European action in this matter would be the strengthening of internal European solidarity and unity.
Suspension or cancellation of Nord Stream 2 does not call for a drawn-out search for unanimity by EU’s foreign ministers, nor does it require complex ratification procedures in the European Parliament or Member States’ parliaments.
Such bold action calls for just one thing: political leadership.
Who else if not Germany should take up that leadership? And if not now, when it is primarily the Germans who have it in their own hands, then when?
John Bruton is the former prime minister of Ireland. Mikuláš Dzurinda is the former prime minister of Slovakia, and president of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies. Andrius Kubilius MEP is the former prime minister of Lithuania.
For the complete article published by EUObserver on February 25, 2021, see the following: