Updated: Feb 3, 2021
By Jack Turner
EU states agreed on a compromise proposal for the reform of the European gas market, meaning plans for Nord Stream 2 can go ahead as planned. This happened despite fears France would stand in Germany’s way. For around eight and a half years, natural gas has flowed directly from Russia to Germany through the Nord Stream pipeline, and now following this agreement, an almost identical parallel project, Nord Stream 2, should be completed by the end of 2019.
Though the pipeline will bring an extra flow of 55 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, which is enough to heat around 26 million households, it also brings a great deal of criticism along with it. This is due to the fact it weakens the strategic and economic importance of alternative pipelines and traditional transit countries in the EU, whilst also risking German and EU dependence on increasingly authoritarian Russian leadership. US President Trump echoed these sentiments, claimingGermany’s energy dependence makes it “totally controlled by Russia”.
In the face of this criticism, Merkel remained defiant, seeing no danger of dependency on Russian gas and claiming Germany will "under no circumstances make itself dependent on Russia alone".
Elsewhere, Chancellor Merkel unveiled Germany’s new, €1 billion headquarters of the German Intelligence Agency (BND) in the heart of Berlin. With the detection of ‘fake news’ and the threat of cyberattacks among its primary challenges, it is seen as a statement of Germany's renewed confidence in its global role. This costly move from the outskirts of Munich, to the centre of Berlin has not come without criticism however, as the secret service in Germany has been viewed negatively since the days of the Gestapo and Stasi.
Finally, calls made by the Nord-Rhein-Westphalia Integration Council for Turkish lessons to replace English in primary schools have been strongly opposed by the teachers’ association, which described the proposal as “absolutely anti-integrative” and the Minister of Education Yvonne Gebauer (FDP), who stated “English is and remains to be the central foreign language that enables worldwide communication”.
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