Donald Trump gets mad
As soon as the NATO summit opened on Wednesday 11 July, Donald Trump castigated his European “friends” for the inadequacy of their defence budget and gave Germany both barrels because of the dangerous game its playing with Russia.
It is true to say that Europe has not respected its commitment to devote 2% of its budget to military defence.
And the American president demanded in the plenary session that it be raised to 4% from now on.
According to “Le Monde ” , NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recognised that it was necessary, in Europe’s own interest, to be able ” by 2030, to deploy within 30 days 30 mechanised battalions, 30 squadrons and 30 combat ships to face a Russian military operation, identified as a potential aggressor.”
Germany as the lone gunman
It is in this context that the Nord Stream gas pipeline project, which is due to link Russia directly to Germany, seems unacceptable to Washington, because it increases European dependence on Russia’s goodwill.
This highly controversial project does indeed threaten to undermine Europe’s liquefied natural gas strategy, intended to diversify Europe’s supply.
It is for this reason that the European Commission is against it and that Central Europe is presenting a united front to oppose it legally .
Poland and Ukraine called for sanctions against it last May.
The Moscow-Berlin axis
The former German Chancellor G. Schröder, already linked to Gazprom and recently appointed Chairman of the Board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft, is the strongest supporter of the pipeline project.
The EWI 2016 report  analyses European gas dependence out to 2035 in a range of possible scenarios. In each scenario, this dependence increases firstly because of requirements which will at the very least remain constant, and secondly because of plummeting production in the EU and Norway.
In all these examples, Germany is set to become the gas hub and generate substantial revenues from it.
The German energy transition policy (Energiewende) foregrounds this gas, as a result of proposed closures of nuclear reactors, and because of the need to reduce coal, due to the additional costs linked to the likely development of the carbon tax and taking into account the intermittent nature of the production of so-called “renewable” energies: wind/photovoltaic, which prevent them from replacing fossil fuel use in the long term.
According to this EWI report, the evolution of European dependence on Russia will depend on two factors:
- Gazprom’s competitive strategy
- Whether or not the Nord Stream gas pipeline is in place and whether or not the southern European gas corridor is developed
And the emerging Gas on Sale (GoS) scenario would favour the Moscow-Berlin axis and would lead to a clear increase in European dependence on Russia.
The 2 illustrations below summarise the conditions for each scenario envisaged (fig S1) and the forecast sources of supply for each (fig 2.1)
Source EWI 2016 report
Source EWI 2016 report
So, it appears that the scenario which is causing apprehension will lead, by 2035, to Europe’s dependence on Russia being 50% greater than the Nord Dream (NoD) scenario in which the Nord Stream project is halted.
The strengthening of this dependence, in the current geopolitical context, exposes Europe to an undeniable risk.
And that is why Donald Trump is so angry – he blames Germany’s energy policy for the way in which it looks to enrich Russia and deepen Europe’s reliance on her.
The butt of the joke
Contrary to widespread belief, the negligible cost of France’s uranium imports does not make its security of supply dependent on the variables of geopolitics.
And, for the European Commission, it is its nuclear plants that allow it to have an energy independence rate well above the average .
The main effect of a closure of any reactor deemed safe by the ASN [the French Nuclear Safety Authority] will be to reduce this independence and considerably weaken the country on the international scene.
And that will not be a walk in the park.
This post is also available in: FR (FR)