Ratas: The Baltic prime ministers are committed to the fast advancement of Rail Baltica

Press release from the Government of the Republic of Estonia

Riga, 6 December 2019 – At an official meeting of the Baltic Prime Ministers’ Council in Riga, the Baltic prime ministers agreed that they would regularly monitor the progress of the Rail Baltica project so that it could be vigorously developed and the international railway would assuredly be completed within the next long-term budget of the European Union.

“At today’s meeting, we were able to confirm along with representatives of the European Commission and RB Rail AS that Rail Baltica will remain a very important project for all of us and something we will overcome disagreements and concerns for,” said Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

“It is our common desire to move forward and start the construction as quickly as possible. Therefore, to complete the project successfully and quickly, the transport ministers of the three countries were tasked with improving joint management and building confidence by our next meeting in February. We will certainly also strengthen political leadership.” Ratas added that the ministers responsible for transport will be giving regular updates of the project’s developments to the prime ministers of the three Baltic States. According to the prime minister, he was very pleased to see Poland’s great interest in Rail Baltica and he believes that Finland will also decide to participate in the project in the future.

Ratas also said that the implementation of the Baltic power system synchronisation project is well underway. “It is now important to ensure that synchronisation is also of high political importance to the new European Commission and Parliament, and to ensure the necessary co-financing of the Connecting Europe Facility,” said Ratas.

The Baltic prime ministers also welcomed the progress made in creating a united gas market, with the launch of the Balticconnector on 11 December being an important milestone. At the same time, the need to continue to introduce new sources and connections of energy was also stressed. Estonia is particularly interested in cross-border cooperation in the development of offshore wind farms and is ready to share its experience of the use of biomethane in transport.

During the discussion of the long-term budget of the European Union, the prime ministers emphasised that the budget for 2021–2027 must be ambitious and support the goals of climate neutrality. The cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy, where the harmonisation of direct aid must be accelerated, must not be reduced.

At the working dinner, when Prime Ministers Ratas, Kariņš, and Skvernelis were joined by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the discussions dealt with the regional defence issues as well as the future of Europe after Brexit. It is very important for the Baltic States that the United Kingdom remains our close ally even after the British have left the European Union.

Next year, Estonia will assume the leadership of the Baltic Council of Ministers from Latvia. “In 2020, Estonia will also coordinate cooperation between eight Baltic and Nordic countries. We have set common priorities to create greater synergy between the two formats,” said Jüri Ratas. “These priorities are regional security, major integrated infrastructure projects, digital cooperation, combating climate change, environmental issues, cultural cooperation, and healthcare.”

Photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmJQDMVc

Date of publication: 7 Dec 2019

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