In addition to national legislation, pipeline permitting is also subject to international consultation, namely the Espoo Convention on the Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. The Espoo process was completed for each permitting country (Party of Origin) once the consultation comments were considered and the national permits were issued.
Under the terms of the Espoo Convention, each of the countries through whose waters Nord Stream 2 passes is a “Party of Origin.” Though Russia has signed but not ratified the Espoo Convention, the country still acts as a Party of Origin according to its legislation. Countries that could be affected by transboundary environmental impacts from the project (within the national jurisdiction) are defined as “Affected Parties” according to the Convention.
Since all nine coastal states of the Baltic Sea – the five Parties of Origin plus Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – may be affected by the project, they are all considered Affected Parties. The Espoo Convention requires Parties of Origin to inform and consult Affected Parties if a proposed activity may have potential significant environmental impact across national boundaries. The procedure was initiated in 2013 when the Project Information Document (PID) was disclosed by the Parties of Origin to the Affected Parties.
When the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) documentation and the overall environmental report (“Espoo Report”) were submitted in April 2017 to the Parties of Origin, the national coordinating authority provided the documentation to all Affected Parties as the basis for participation by authorities and the public. Interested parties were invited to submit feedback on the project proposals and related impact assessments.
The relevant competent authority in each Affected Party organised public participation, informational meetings and other consultations on the Espoo Report according to their national legislation. Between May and September 2017, Nord Stream 2 participated in 12 public hearings in the Baltic Sea region to discuss the environmental documentation on a national and transboundary level.
As a result of the public participation, statements relating to the pipeline project were submitted to the competent authorities from associations, authorities and private bodies in all countries around the Baltic Sea region. The competent authorities in Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany then took them into account in their decisions to grant permits. The procedure concluded when all permits were granted at the national level.
Additional Espoo Process for Denmark
After Denmark and Poland resolved a long-standing exclusive economic zone border dispute over an area located south-east of Bornholm in 2018, Nord Stream 2 filed an EIA and permit application for construction of an alternative Danish route south-east of Bornholm. Like other applications, this was also subject to an Espoo Process. As Party of Origin, Denmark consulted with all Affected Parties in the framework of the Espoo Convention prior to granting the permit.