Billion-euro bailout to speed up energy link

  • 2008-12-03
  • By Adam Mullett

POWER MONEY: Large portions of the money earmarked for improving energy security in the Baltics will come from the European Central Bank.

VILNIUS - Lithuania is hoping to speed up energy link work, which would ensure the country's energy security, following a proposed bail out plan from the European Union for all member states.
Most of the 5 billion euros to be allocated for energy links will go to the Baltic States, including Lithuania, which will soon be faced with a drastic energy shortage (see Outlook Page 16).
The energy link between the Baltics and Sweden is one of the projects to get funding from the package.
"This will ease up the financial part of the project, which is the hardest part of the project at the moment. It will speed it up," Darius Montila, board member of Leo LT, the company responsible for the energy link, told The Baltic Times.

"From a perspective of strategic importance, it is very important. With the impending shut down of Ignalina [Nuclear Power Plant], we will have problems soon."
The Ministry of Economy thinks this will help other countries move faster.
"The Swedish 's Baltic link will get more attention from Sweden because for them, this is not a high priority," Arturas Dainius, undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, told The Baltic Times.
"This won't only help the Swedish project, but other countries will make energy links too, where they wouldn't usually be a priority," he said.

The project, which would help ensure constant energy supply to the Baltics has been delayed by stops.
"There are two things stopping us 's The first is Sweden is discussing the creation of a free trade electricity market. This should happen soon and this is required. The second is where the cable should land. Time is of the essence and the deployment will take some years, so the sooner the better. We aren't counting months, we are counting days," Montila said.
Where the cable would land has been a subject of debate between Lithuania and Latvia. Both countries are hurrying to prepare to build the connection, but Mantila said the advantages of having the cable would be minimal.

"The one with the cable will have an advantage, but with the creation of a free electricity market, this problem fixes itself," the board member said.
Lithuania's neighbors will benefit from the mutual sharing of energy.
"The Poland 's Lithuania link will be important for Poland to increase its internal system and the Finnish will be interested to build another link to Estonia," Dainius said.

The European Commission proposes to mobilize up to 5 billion euros for trans-European energy interconnections as part of its 200-billion-euro European Economic Recovery Plan made public recently.
"This is very good news to Lithuania. We propose a rather bold step, that is, to renegotiate the financial perspective. We recommend that countries earmark significant resources for energy interconnections, and this has a direct effect on the interests of Lithuania. We propose to do this as soon as possible. We propose a package of up to 5 billion euros," EU Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite said.

Lithuania, however, needs to prove its worthiness to receive the support by stabilizing its economy.
"Lithuania, in the near-term, should stabilize its state and public finances. This is task number 1. Task number 2 is to shore up the economy through structural reforms and highly targeted investment in energy saving programs, innovation and the education reform, etc. Such a fiscal stimulus would be justified," Grybauskaite said.

The proposed 200 billion euro package represents around 1.5 percent of the EU's gross domestic product (GDP). Around 170 billion euros, or 1.2 percent of GDP, would come from member states and the remaining 30 billion euros would come from the EU's budget and from the European Investment Bank.
The European Commission expects to submit the recovery plan to the EU's leaders during their summit in Brussels on Dec. 11 and 12.