European states sign pledge to protect North Sea infrastructure


By Sudip Kar-Gupta

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and other major European countries with maritime borders on the North Sea on Tuesday signed an agreement to work together to protect underwater infrastructure, including from possible Russian attacks.

The six countries involved – Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands – signed a joint declaration they said would allow them to share information.

Threats to undersea cables and pipelines have become a security focus for Western European countries following the September 2022 explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, built to ship gas from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea.

In May 2023, NATO had said Russia may sabotage undersea cables to punish Western nations for supporting Ukraine, while global security risks have risen further following the Gaza war.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pipes for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, which are not used, are seen in the harbour of Mukran, Germany, on September 30, 2022. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer//File Photo

“The North Sea is the powerhouse driving Europe’s renewable and net zero ambitions, helping to bolster energy security on the continent. So, it’s crucial we protect its critical energy infrastructure now and in the future,” Andrew Bowie, British minister for nuclear and renewables, said.

“Strengthening ties with our key northern European neighbours as we have today will do just that, ensuring the infrastructure is resilient against those who may seek to threaten or disrupt it,” he added.