Russian gas and EU legislation are high on the agenda when Scholz visits Poland

German SPD Party Congress
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during the joint party congress of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in Berlin, Germany, December 11, 2021. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke / Pool

December 11, 2021

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is in Warsaw on Sunday for talks over the migrant crisis on the Poland-Belarus border, Poland’s spat with the EU over judicial independence, tensions with Russia about the military build-up near Ukraine and the fate of a Russian gas pipeline to Germany.

The two neighbors were clear about what they expected of each other.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he would urge Scholz to oppose the start of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring Russian gas to Germany, bypassing Ukraine, as it could be used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to fight back back to Europe.

Germany has supported Poland’s efforts to stem the flow of migrants trying to enter from Belarus, a crisis the European Union has accused Minsk of being technical, and said it would help Warsaw and Brussels finds a solution to their legal dispute.

However, the new German government has not made a public commitment that it will stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine, at the request of Poland and the United States.

Russia is beefing up troops on its border with Ukraine, raising fears of a possible invasion. US President Joe Biden on Tuesday warned Putin that Nord Stream 2 could be disrupted and tough economic sanctions would be introduced if the military invaded.

American officials have told members of Congress they have understood with Germany about shutting down the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine, a senior Congressional aide said on Tuesday.

German officials have not confirmed those reports, but Scholz on Wednesday said there would be consequences if Russia trespassed on Ukraine’s border.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock struck a conciliatory tone over Poland’s legal dispute with Brussels during a visit to Warsaw on Friday, saying Germany would help find a solution.

The European Court of Justice handed down the punishment to Poland after it found that judicial reforms passed by the Right and Justice (PiS) party violated EU law.

Poland has refused to pay the fine and its highest court has ruled that Polish law may take precedence over EU rules.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Ros Russell) Russian gas and EU legislation are high on the agenda when Scholz visits Poland


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