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Vilnius city turns to Brussels to tell on national government's sloppy work

Vilniaus savivaldybė Lietuvos Respubliką skundžia Europos Komisijai dėl neskirtų lėšų Vilniaus termofikacinės elektrinės modernizavimui.
Andriaus Ufarto/BFL nuotr. / .
Šaltinis: BNS

The city of Vilnius decided to complain to the European Commission that national government is late to upgrade combined heat-and-power (CHP) plants.

"I propose that the local government of Vilnius file a complaint about a Community law violation that Lithuania has committed by failing to prepare documents for the upgrading of CHP plants and to allocate funds for this purpose," Vilnius deputy Mayor Jonas Pinskus said during the City Council's meeting.

Pinskus said that this will help draw the attention of both the government and the European Union to this issue.

"We must deal with these issues now, although we are late already. Still, we have to do something," he said.

According to Pinskus, Lithuania has committed to the European Commission to submit an investment plan, setting out the work to be done by 31 December 2015 to ensure the upgrading of the CHP plants in Vilnius, Kaunas and Mažeikiai. Some 171 million euros in EU funds had been earmarked for the purpose, but the government gave 150 million litas (EUR 43.48 mln), which it had to allocate for this project, to road building, he said.

Meanwhile, Raimundas Alekna, executive secretary of Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, which is in the opposition in the City Council, said that this initiative will do harm to the entire country. Some members of the Council said that Vilnius' authorities "will make fools of themselves" in the EU and proposed to send the draft back for improvement.

"Let's not make fools of ourselves," said Alekna, former mayor of the capital city.

Vilnius Mayor Artūras Zuokas said that the application document has been worked out by a group of authoritative lawyers and experts.

"I hope that the European Commission will sober up the government and urge it to meet its commitments," he said.

However, the mayor added that if the government responds to a letter the City Council sent to it last September, the local government may change its decision.

According to Vilnius' authorities, if the EU's executive body decides to file an infringement action with the European Court of Justice, Lithuania may face fines ranging from 1.9 million to 119 million litas.

The CHP plants in Vilnius, Kaunas and Mažeikiai must comply with EU pollution requirements starting 2016.

The government and President Dalia Grybauskaitė have repeatedly criticized Vilnius authorities for their allegedly poor management of the capital's energy sector and Vilnius Mayor Artūras Zuokas for his alleged private interests in the business. Grybauskaitė has described the Icor Group's interests as "dominating" in the capital's heating sector and said that the city authorities are to a great extent responsible for the situation.

The CHP plant of Vilnius is run by Vilniaus Energija (Vilnius Energy), which is controlled by France's Dalkia and is related to Icor.

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