The construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on the bottom of the Baltic Sea is currently suspended.
Although the Russian Gazprom project, which cost at least eight billion euros, is 96 percent complete, more and more European project partners are leaving.
Reason: sanctions threats from the USA.
In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the tube is to hit the land, the state government no longer wants to accept the standstill.
With a foundation trick, she wants to undermine the sanctions threats from the USA.
If the project succeeds, the new pipe could bring more natural gas directly from Russia to the German Baltic coast this year.
WELT has the cabinet proposal from the state government from Schwerin.
According to this, the state parliament should approve the establishment of a “Foundation for Climate Protection MV” in its session on Thursday, according to the printed matter 01.2021, signed by Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig, SPD.
From the state budget, 200,000 euros are to flow into the foundation capital, plus 50,000 euros for “enforcement costs”.
The purpose of the foundation reads indefinitely: There is talk of “climate protection measures and projects”.
After ten sub-items and a lot of text on the general “improvement of the ecological situation”, the applicants finally let the cat out of the bag: “The establishment of a commercial business in the foundation with the aim of contributing to the progress of the work on the northern pipeline is also planned Stream 2. "
Source: Infographic Die Welt
The purpose of the foundation has it all - because it can be decisive for the question of whether a billion-dollar investment ruin on the bottom of the Baltic Sea will soon rust or whether more Russian natural gas will flow to Western Europe.
Because the US sanctions law is directed exclusively against private companies, but explicitly not against public law institutions.
If a foundation of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania practically as general contractor takes the completion of the laying work on its own books, the private companies would be protected from threats of US sanctions, so the hope.
Construction could go on.
Dual purpose of the foundation
The federal government did not want to comment on the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania foundation initiative.
The Schwerin state government officially justifies its commitment to the Baltic Sea pipeline with the requirements of the energy turnaround: "Climate protection also includes securing an energy supply that is as climate-friendly as possible," says the reasoning:
"Their implementation requires gas-fired power plants that can be used quickly and very flexibly for a longer transition period." However, this makes "a secure gas supply indispensable," says Schwesig's application: "The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project will make a significant contribution to this."
With the dual purpose of the foundation, climate protection plus natural gas pipeline, the state government apparently hopes that the new organization will be recognized by the tax office as non-profit.
"The state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, together with the consortium that is jointly financing and building Nord Stream 2, sees a special responsibility for effective climate protection and the success of the energy transition," says the state government's application.
"The Nord Stream 2 consortium will support and accompany this through well-known endowments."
A vague, essentially wrong formulation, which probably serves to cover up.
Because there is no such thing as a “Nord Stream 2 consortium”.
It is true that Western European energy companies, including Uniper and Wintershall from Germany, act as financiers in pipeline construction.
But from a legal and formal point of view, it is not a consortium: the client is the Russian Gazprom alone, operating through a project company in Zug, Switzerland.
The wording of "sub-foundations" by the alleged "consortium" disguises the fact that the German climate foundation is to receive money directly from Moscow.
"That would be a dam break"
From the point of view of the Green politician Claudia Müller, member of the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and parliamentary group spokeswoman for the maritime economy, the planned foundation trick is on shaky feet.
"Nord Stream 2 is a private-sector project of the Russian Gazprom Group, so it will be difficult to prove the charitable status of the foundation to the tax authorities."
Müller also fears that the USA will not allow itself to be tricked in this way - and that even charitable foundations will no longer be exempted from future sanctions threats: "That would be a breach of the dam."
The fact that the new climate foundation is also setting itself numerous general ecological goals should not hide the fact that the actual purpose of the undertaking is to complete the pipeline.
After all, the state government's motion for a resolution states explicitly:
“Due to the current sanctions legislation of the USA, an immediate foundation is required in order to achieve the short-term co-purpose of the foundation according to No.
I.1.i) to be able to implement.
To do this, the extraordinary state parliament session on January 7, 2021 must be reached.
This requires an immediate decision by the cabinet. "
The last 16 kilometers
The state chairman of the Greens, Ole Krüger, considers the planned foundation to be a “sham package”: “The task is not to promote climate protection, but simply to buy building materials and services and 'pass them on' to the builders for Nordstream 2,” said the politician :
"In addition to the absurdity of this adventurous construct, it is also highly questionable whether this really protects against the sanctions." The fact that the federal government does not participate in the foundation shows "the immense doubts about the seriousness of the project."
It is also questionable whether the foundation can really organize all the outstanding work on the last 16 kilometers of the pipeline in German territorial waters.
Only last week, the main technical certifier, the Norwegian DNV GL, withdrew under the pressure of the US threats.
It is uncertain whether the company will be hired again by a Schwerin state foundation.
However, an internationally valid technical certification is essential for the operating license of the pipeline.