Slow work threatens decommissioning funds

  • 2012-07-25
  • From wire reports

VILNIUS - “If Lithuania does not speed up, we will suspend the agreement,” said Michael Theurer, head of the fact-finding mission of the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament, which came to Vilnius to evaluate the progress made with the decommissioning process of the Ignalina nuclear power plant (NPP), reports ELTA.
“The financial management system has to be improved, as well as the management of the Ignalina NPP project,” Theurer said.

Lithuania is urged to speed up to complete the decommissioning process, otherwise the European Commission will freeze the funding. “As many as 457 million euros from the projected 1.1 billion euros from the EU budget have been spent. However, there has not been any progress as the management is inefficient (…) the works are behind schedule. Why don’t we have better financial management? (…) we call on all responsible authorities to improve the decommissioning process because further delays will undermine Lithuania’s right to the EU funds,” Theurer said.
Lithuanian MEP Zigmantas Balcytis worries about any cutoff in funding. “If the European Commission decides to freeze the funds it will be a very bad signal to Lithuania and foreign investors,” the MEP said on July 12.

Deividas Matulionis, chancellor to Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, acknowledged the doubts held by the delegation. He stressed that Lithuania is ready to go for a compromise with the European Commission. The chancellor said that the European Commission’s previous proposal is unacceptable because it means a radical reduction of funding.
Lithuania asked for 770 million euros to close the Ignalina NPP, but the European Commission is ready to give only 200 million euros.

The prime minister had said that the European Union made a commitment to give adequate funding to decommission the NPP, and determine how much money the massive project will require. “The price to close the plant is well known to all of us; we have discussed that in numerous forums and donor conferences. But the question is, what would we do if the EU cannot find the proper funding as was planned?” he asked rhetorically.