Minister of Transport and Communications, Marius Skuodis, says it is important to include additional transport corridors and infrastructure links between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine in the plans for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), which includes the Via Baltica and Rail Baltica projects. The Minister stressed this at the Informal Ministerial Meeting on Transport in Barcelona, Spain, this Friday, which has approved a joint ministerial declaration on the importance of transport links in enhancing Europe's social and territorial cohesion.
"It is extremely important for Lithuania to develop a North-South transport corridor linking the Baltic, Black and Aegean Seas. Additional transport links with Poland, as well as with Ukraine, would allow for greater passenger, freight and military mobility throughout the Baltic Sea Region, and we expect them to become part of the trans-European transport network," said Mr Skuodis, Minister of Transport and Communications.
The joint EU Ministers' declaration highlights the role of the transport sector in promoting social and territorial cohesion in Europe. In order to ensure efficient links and uninterrupted transport by both road and European rail, the Ministers call for the swift adoption of the TEN-T Regulation which is currently under revision. The emphasis is on increasing the overall efficiency of the European transport system and also contributing to the European Green Deal and the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.
On the proposal from Lithuania, the TEN-T network is to be complemented with a European-gauge rail track to Klaipėda. It also envisages new military mobility links between Lithuania and Poland: an alternative link is planned from Bialystok through Augustów and Lazdijai, then connecting to the Nordic-Baltic Sea Corridor branch connecting Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda, and further North to Latvia and Estonia. The possibility of adding a new link to Ukraine via Yagodin-Dorohusk to the Baltic-Adriatic-Black Sea Corridor is also under consideration.
The TEN-T network connects the EU's major cities, seaports and airports, rail terminals and other transport hubs. This network includes the most important international road and rail links in Lithuania: Rail Baltica, Via Baltica, the Klaipėda-Kaunas-Vilnius highway, the Vilnius-Klaipėda railway, as well as the Klaipėda State Seaport, the airports of Vilnius, Kaunas, Palanga and the Kaunas Intermodal Terminal.
The aims of extending the European-gauge rail track to Klaipėda and improving international logistics links across the Polish-Ukrainian border were set forth in the Memorandum between the Transport Ministers of Lithuania and Poland signed in Vilnius back on 16 September 2022, and the Memorandum between the Transport Ministers of Lithuania and Ukraine signed in Rzeszów, Poland, on 30 March 2023. Other Baltic countries have also joined the development of this corridor at Lithuania's initiative.