US threatens of secondary sanctions relating to Nord Stream 2
The US House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Affairs (the "House Foreign Affairs Committee") threatens of secondary sanctions over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, meaning that European parties involved in the construction of the gas pipeline could be subject to future US sanctions.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, currently under construction, intends to transport Russian natural gas from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea and into the EU's internal market. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has unanimously endorsed a bill – Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019 (the "Bill") – which would mandate US sanctions on foreign parties involved in the construction of this pipeline.
If approved, the Bill would, inter alia, require the US President to impose asset freezes and visa bans on any foreign person who knowingly sells, leases, or provides pipe-laying vessels for the construction of Nord Stream 2. Potential sanctions targets are thus, for example, European companies participating as subcontractors to the pipeline development.
The Bill states that Nord Stream 2 is not driven by commercial viability but by Russian foreign policy goals. The rationale of the Bill is thus to prevent the Russian government from using the Nord Stream 2 as "a tool of coercion and political leverage" and from making "European countries dependent on Russia for energy supplies, so as to increase this political leverage".
The Bill has not yet passed all legislative bodies necessary to be signed into US law.