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Lithuania and European Commission reach compromise on Rail Baltica

Pavelas Telička
Aurimo Šrubėno nuotr. / Pavel Telička
Šaltinis: BNS
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Lithuania and the European Commission have agreed on the principles for setting up a joint venture for the European-gauge railway project Rail Baltica, with a compromise reached in Vilnius on Friday allowing Lithuania to keep all of its infrastructure.

Pavel Telička, the European Commission's coordinator for Rail Baltica, told reporters about the agreement after meeting with Lithuanian Transport Minister Rimantas Sinkevičius in Vilnius.

"The aim (of the meeting) was to make progress in the current stage mainly on the new phase, some people call it "Rail Baltica 2". We are now very close to finalizing a joint declaration which would be the basis for the joint company that would be the company utilizing the funds under the new financial perspective and the driving engine of Rail Baltica 2," Telička said.

"I think what was important for Lithuania was that the infrastructure, taking into account the Lithuanian constitution, would stay in Lithuanian hands. Today we consider that as agreed," he said.

The coordinator said that he thought that the company could be set up early next year. It would apply for EU funding for the project.

Sinkevičius said that the company would issue tenders and would seek EU funding that would account for at least 85 percent of the value of the whole project. The minister said that Lithuania would not necessarily be represented in the new company by the state railway operator Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways).

"We think that in setting up the venture, the number of shares will have to be proportionate to the size of investment or railway mileage," he said.

The joint venture would be headquartered in Riga. It is also sought that Rail Baltica link together all three Baltic capitals and seaports of the three countries.

According to information available to BNS, Poland is not very enthusiastic about the project, saying that it has a good railway infrastructure and that it is not worthwhile for it to invest in Rail Baltica. However, sources say that the European Commission's officials will still try to persuade Warsaw.

BNS
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