Nauseda's idea to appoint Latvia's Piebalgs as Baltic synchronization coordinator gets no support

  • 2020-02-25
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - The European Commission and the Baltic countries have rejected Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda's proposal to appoint Andris Piebalgs, a Latvian who has in the past served as European commissioner for energy, a special EU coordinator for the synchronization of the Baltic power grids with the Western European system.

The synchronization project is well on track, so neither the Commission nor the Baltic countries took any action to appoint such a coordinator, an EU source told BNS. 

"The idea was presented to the European Commission, too. However, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania gave this issue no further consideration," the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of this issue, told BNS. 

"The Baltic grids' synchronization with the Continental European system and desynchronization from Russia and Belarus is going at full speed, as planned. Therefore, neither the European Commission nor the Baltic countries thought that a project coordinator was needed." 

According to the source, Lithuania did not discuss the idea with Kadri Simson, a former Estonian economy and infrastructure minister who now serves as the European commissioner for energy.

Nauseda's office refused to comment in more detail on the outcome of his initiative. 

However, the president's office said in a comment to BNS that Simson's appointment as energy commissioner leads them to expect that all project participants will receive the necessary support and that proper coordination will be ensured to accelerate the implementation of the project.

"The president's also welcomes the fact that the president's proposal to strengthen the coordination of synchronization issues at national level by transferring it to the level of a governmental commission has been taken into account," it said. 

"The use of more flexible procurement procedures for projects of national importance, such as synchronization, could also expedite the implementation of the project," according to the comment.   

Nauseda raised the idea of appointing Piebalgs, who served as European commissioner for energy between 2004 and 2010, as the project coordinator during his visit to Brussels last September.  

In November, the president called on the Lithuanian government to accelerate the synchronization work. He suggested that legislation should be adopted to shorten various procedures and that a governmental commission led by the prime minister should constantly supervise the project coordination. 

Earlier this month, the government approved the Energy Ministry's proposal to set up a special coordination commission for the synchronization project. The Cabinet also backed the initiative to look at ways of applying more flexible procurement procedures to the synchronization project.

Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas said that the synchronization work was going according to plan.

The government told BNS that a special commission, headed by the prime minister, would likely be established and start its work "in the near future".  

The Baltic grids are still part of the post-Soviet BRELL ring, which also includes Russia and Belarus, and remain dependent on the control center in Moscow and the Russian electricity system.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia aim to synchronize their grids with Continental Europe by 2025.