Nord Stream leaks: EU warns, Moscow denies suspicions

Copenhagen (AFP) – On September 28, the EU warned against any attack targeting its energy infrastructure. After leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea were described as “sabotage” by Europeans, Moscow deemed it “stupid” to suspect Russia.

“Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is completely unacceptable and will be met with a vigorous and united response,” said EU Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell. The information available at this stage indicates that the leaks caused by explosions on these underwater installations linking Russia to Germany are the result of a “deliberate act”, added the European official in a statement on behalf of the 27 member states of the EU.

Moscow, for its part, challenged the “quite predictable” suspicions expressed against it by certain capitals, claiming they were “stupid and absurd”. The leaks affecting Nord Stream 1 and 2 were “problematic” for Moscow, because the Russian gas that escapes “is very expensive”, argued Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. On September 27, Russia said it was “extremely concerned”, believing that no hypothesis, including sabotage, should not be excluded. (September 28, 2022)

Belgium and 14 other EU countries push for a proposal for a general gas price cap

Brussels (Belga) – Fifteen European member states, including Belgium, want the European Commission to submit a proposal this week for the introduction of a general price cap for gas, so that the energy ministers can discuss it at their emergency meeting on Friday. A European price cap for gas has been discussed for several weeks. The Commission proposed its “emergency intervention” in the energy market on September 14 to drive down prices, but a proposal for a price cap was not part of that. The energy ministers had asked the Commission to examine a general cap – on all gas imported into Europe – but that work is still not finished. Belgium is one of the member states that is pushing hardest for the introduction of such a general cap, but other countries and the Commission invariably warn about the security of supply and consider a cap solely on Russian gas imports to be more workable.

Three days before the 27 energy ministers meet again to discuss the price crisis in the energy sector, 15 member states have sent a letter to Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, urging him to submit a proposal for the introduction of a general price cap for gas. This could already serve as a basis for discussions in the energy council. Belga was able to view the letter to the Commission in the evening of September 27. The countries argue that a general price cap “can be designed in such a way as to ensure security of supply and the free flow of gas in Europe, while continuing to meet our target of reducing gas demand”.

Belgium, Greece and Italy were the main proponents of this letter, it is said. They eventually brought on board Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark in particular were not won over by the idea of a general price cap. A price cap must be approved by a so-called qualified majority. Together, the fifteen countries that have signed the letter will need the support of at least one other member state. (September 27)

77.4 percent of citizens support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership in the EU

Sarajevo (FENA) – In the event of a referendum on membership in the European Union, 77.4 percent of the respondents would vote for the entry of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the EU, according to the latest survey by the Directorate for European Integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Research on support for the accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU, and on topics related to European integration that interest the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was conducted in August 2022 on a sample of 1,200 respondents representative of the entire country.

As reasons for their support, respondents most frequently cite a guarantee of permanent peace and political stability (34.4 percent), freedom of movement of people, goods and capital (32 percent) and compliance with laws and regulations (22.8 percent). 50.4 percent of the respondents who do not support BiH’s entry into the EU cite fear of higher living costs and taxes as their most common reason.

According to the opinion of 49.9 percent of respondents, young people will benefit the most from BiH’s entry into the EU. 39.1 percent believe that the politicization of the process will be the greatest challenge for the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the EU, while for 27.9 percent, an unwillingness to change appears to be the greatest obstacle. According to 49 percent of respondents, the fight against corruption is the most necessary reform to improve the daily life of citizens in BiH, followed by the reduction of tax burdens (17.2 percent), and the reform of courts and prosecutors’ offices (14.5 percent).

A total of 48 percent of respondents think that BiH’s European path has no alternative, while 44.8 percent think that it has. 35.3 percent of the respondents believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina will never join the EU, while 34.7 percent believe that the accession will take no more than 10 years. 15.4 percent reckon it will take a maximum of 15 years and 14.6 percent expect 20 years at the most. (September 26)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.