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Eastern European energy security: what is the Russian factor?

By JOSEPH CANTU, with PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – Recently, Eastern European reliance on Russian natural gas has dominated security discussions as a way Russia could extend its influence into the EU. While US liquid natural gas (LNG) imports pour into the new Polish LNG terminal at Świnoujście, the US Senate in June threatened to impose sanctions against the proposed Nord Stream II gas pipeline expansion, which would transit Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to German consumers. Many German politicians denounced the proposed sanctions, which have yet to be approved by the US House of Representatives. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, has also criticised Nord Stream II, saying it does not serve “the best European interest”. Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission for energy policy, agreed. Nord Stream II has the “potential to have a negative effect on Central and Eastern Europe… and it could have a devastating effect on Ukraine.” Getting a clear picture of the issue is not easy, given…

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EU leaders’ decisions augur big developments for European defence policy, with wider implications for other sectors as well

By PATRICK STEPHENSON and BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – After decades of procrastination, national leaders at their 22-23 June summit here took decisions that now set the stage for the EU’s entry into the defence field, though any talk of an imminent “European” army is fantasy. Nonetheless, important policy proposals by the European Commission were approved. The member states themselves finally agreed to finance their diverse battlegroups to boost the EU’s common security and defence policy (CSDP), for example, while approving plans – far more radical – to allow self-selected EU countries to shift into “permanent structured cooperation” (PESCO) in defence. But these were just some of the approved measures. An interesting coda to these decisions will be their impact on the EU’s...