From May 23rd 2019 to May 26th 2019, the citizens of the European Union voted for the renewal of the Parliament. According to most analysts and the media, the result of the European election seems to have confirmed that the so-called “sovereigntist” pressures did not break through (with the exception of Great Britain) and pro-European parties, starting from the conservatives and the socialists, maintained the majority in the Parliament, despite a significant loss of consensus. On May 30th 2019, Gianni Bessi, author of the essay “Natural Gas – the energy of tomorrow” and political representative of the Democratic Party in the legislative assembly of Emilia Romagna region, published an article on the portal Start Magazine dealing with the European elections. In particular, he wrote: “The European Union is not immune to criticism, on the contrary: it is precisely its supporters who know what is really wrong. Starting [...] from a real integration, not only economic-financial, among the elements on which nations are based: infrastructures, trades, the army, taxation [...], emphasizing how a European energy integration would be desirable. It is a question of understanding how it is possible to translate the will to build a European energy network into concrete actions, without being distracted by nationalistic nostalgia”.
Given that each Member State should have the aim of creating an integrated system of European gas pipelines, especially if this concerns a net importer of energy such as Italy, are we so sure that the European Union is really pursuing this goal while creating at the same time a barrier to the nationalistic re-emergencies?I would like to suggest a brief analysis of the main political issues, which lay behind the most important European natural gas projects to help the reader understand the matter at hand.
In fact, the impression is that Italy lost the opportunity to become a gas hub when the South Stream pipeline, which would have started from the Russian port of Beregovaja, then through the Black Sea to the Bulgarian port of Varna with two extensions towards Italy and Austria, was cancelled due to the strong pressures exerted by the United States of America over Bulgaria and the strong opposition implemented by the European Commission against the project too (unlike what happened to other similar pipes, no exemption related to the Third Energy Package rules were granted). In particular, on June 8th 2014, former Prime Minister, Plamen Orecharski, “ordered to stop the works” after having met with U.S. Senators John McCain, Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson.
The building of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) – that will form the Southern Corridor together with the South Caucasus Pipeline and TANAP – will not make Italy an important energy crossroads. In reality, TAP, exploiting the Azeri gas fields in the Caspian Sea (Shah Deniz II), will grant a partial, but important diversification of the Italian suppliers (nevertheless, the full utilization of the pipe transport capacity could possibly need Russian gas too). However, to the detriment of Italy, the Nord Stream pipeline, which lays on the Baltic Sea floor and which Gazprom is currently doubling, will allow Germany to become the new European sorting hub of Russian gas. Moreover, the extension of the Turkish Stream pipeline, a sort of South Stream new pocket edition, which will give to Gazprom the opportunity to supply South Europe with an outside EU landing (Turkey), with high probability of it being re-directed to the Balkans rather than to South Italy.
In fact, the interests subtending the construction of the “European energy network” of which Bessi writes have already taken shape at Italy’s expense and in favor of Germany. It would not be by chance that, on September 5th 2018, Giuseppe Cucchi, former NATO General and chief of the Italian secret services during Massimo D’Alema’s and Romano Prodi’s governments stated: “As for Germany, it is enough to mention how in the energy sector with the right hand blocks the construction of the South Stream pipeline, which was supposed to pass through Italy, while with the left propitious the doubling of Nord Stream, in Germany”. With the understanding that the national security of any country depends also on energy policy, the concrete risk is that this EU instead of representing a barrier against the new re-emerging nationalism, could be the main cause of it.