BERLIN German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she saw no need for a separate mandate for the European Commission to negotiate with Russia over its objection to the divisive Nord Stream 2 pipeline project to pump more Russian gas to Europe.
"I think some legal questions need to be clarified in relation to Nord Stream 2," Merkel told a news conference with Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas. "Otherwise it is an economic project and I don't think we need an extra mandate for it."
Eastern European and Baltic countries say a new pipeline carrying Russian gas across the Baltic will make the EU a hostage to Moscow, while those in northern Europe -- especially main beneficiary Germany -- see the economic benefits.
Uncertainty remains over the project's final approval as the European Commission is politically opposed to the project and has argued that it falls foul of EU gas market liberalization rules.
EU nations are deliberating on whether to give the European Union a mandate to negotiate with Russia.
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Michelle Martin)