Pipes for Nord Stream 2: Indirect effects cannot be ruled out
Photo: Jens Büttner / dpa
The Scientific Services of the Bundestag do not see a clear violation of international law in the US sanctions against German companies in connection with the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline.
As long as the USA acted moderately and invoked the protection of national security interests and the negative effects on its own economy, "international law can do little to counteract the adoption of extraterritorial sanctions," says an expert report by left-wing foreign policy expert Sevim Dagdelen in Gave order.
US President Donald Trump has been criticizing the almost completed gas pipeline between Russia and Germany for years and is fighting it with sanctions.
He accuses Germany of allowing the USA to protect itself militarily from Russia, while at the same time providing Moscow with high revenues from gas exports.
Critics of Trump mean, however, that the US president is only interested in the sale of American liquefied gas in Europe.
So-called extraterritorial sanctions such as the one against Nord Stream 2 are legally controversial because they do not directly protect the area, the citizens or companies of the sanctioning state.
In August, US senators issued specific threats of sanctions against a German company, the operating company of the port of Mukran on Rügen.
The port is considered the most important transshipment point for the construction of the pipeline, which was stopped in December 2019 due to US sanctions.
The federal government rejects extraterritorial sanctions, and the EU Commission has even made statements that such sanctions are contrary to international law.
In the opinion of the Bundestag experts, however, the argumentation of the USA cannot be dismissed out of hand.
"Even if the Nord Stream 2 project does not have a direct impact on national security in the United States, indirect effects cannot be ruled out," says the report.
"According to the exception clauses in the friendship treaty and in the WTO regulations, the USA is free to define its national security concerns independently."
What is meant is the friendship treaty between the USA and Germany from 1954.
The arguments put forward by the USA on the threat to national security could be perceived as being advanced, but are ultimately "the result of a political margin of discretion that can hardly be made justifiable in practice", the report continues.
"There are also no objective criteria under international law to legally contain the interpretation and application of the protection principle."
The experts recommend that the German government strive for a diplomatic solution to the conflict with the USA.
Dagdelen, on the other hand, calls on the federal government to go to the International Court of Justice anyway if the threatened sanctions against the operators of the port on Rügen were implemented.
"The federal government must not give way to US President Trump and his brazen sanctions threats," she says.
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mik / dpa