Baltic Prime Ministers: Ministers for transport need to find a solution for the future success of the Rail Baltica project
On 6 December, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš discussed the way forward for the Rail Baltica project during a meeting with Prime Ministers of Lithuania and Estonia, as well as with representatives from Poland, Finland and the European Commission. The Prime Ministers of the Baltic States agreed to task the ministers for transport to propose a joint solution for an integrated project implementation model for Rail Baltica by February 2020.
Following the meeting, K.Kariņš acknowledged that, as regards the Rail Baltica project, all parties agreed that progress had been made in the implementation of the project, the design phase was satisfactory and construction works had been launched in some stages.
At the same time, however, some critical views on the progress of the project must be accepted. Therefore, the Prime Ministers of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania tasked, when discussing with representatives of the European Commission as well as Poland and Finland, the ministers for transport to agree and offer a joint proposal for a project implementation model by February 2020.
The Prime Ministers of the three Baltic States also called on Poland and Finland to actively engage in the implementation of the Rail Baltica, since the involvement of these two countries plays a key role for its success. The EU funding in the next multiannual budget, which was negotiated with the European Commission's high-level representatives, is also an important precondition for the success of the project.
The developments on the electricity and gas market were also addressed at the meeting. The Prime Minister stressed that this year the three Baltic States have switched from political discussions to a technical project for the synchronisation of the Baltic electricity networks with the EU system. K.Kariņš also welcomed the fact that the regional gas market will become operational from 2020, which would serve as an example for other regions in the EU.
The officials discussed the EU's draft multiannual budged within the framework of the meeting. They agreed that the EU's multi-annual budget should serve to address the EU's key priorities, including climate change. This requires adequate funding for the implementation of cohesion and agricultural policies. The Prime Ministers of the Baltic States agreed to further jointly promote the interests of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in the next EU multiannual budget.
The renewed Agreement between the governments of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania on the consular assistance and cooperation, which replaces the Agreement of 5 February 1999 signed in Vilnius was signed at the meeting. The new Agreement sets out more extensive standards for consular assistance for nationals of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania who are involved in criminal offences, serious accidents or find themselves in trouble. The Agreement provides for assistance in the event of detention, death or repatriation and for the issuing of temporary travel documents. The Agreement also provides for the right of the Baltic States to cooperate in rendering of consular assistance, not only in third countries but also in the EU Member States.
During the meeting of the three Baltic Prime Ministers and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, due consideration was given to the security situation in the region, the strengthening of transatlantic relations and recent meeting of NATO leaders, including the updated defence plan for the Baltic States and Poland. Relations with Russia and the situation in Ukraine were also addressed, ahead of the forthcoming ‘Normandy format’ summit in Paris to be held on Monday 9 December.
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