Monday, February 22, Vilnius – President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the EU’s energy union. The meeting placed special emphasis on issues concerning the security of the Astravyets nuclear power plant being built in Lithuania’s and the EU’s neighborhood and the synchronization of Baltic electricity grids with continental Europe.
“We all remember the Chernobyl tragedy. Unsafe nuclear power plants that do not conform to international standards are a threat to all the people of Europe. Therefore, we must demand, through the concerted efforts of the EU and the whole international community, that the Astravyets power plant complies with the highest international security standards, that a transparent and independent environmental impact assessment is made and that risk and safety assessments are carried out,” the President said.
Lithuania is concerned about Belarus’ statements that the Astravyets nuclear power plant will be the cheapest nuclear power plant built in the world. Construction works of the nuclear power plant are carried out hastily and without observing any quality standards. Risk and safety assessments to determine whether the nuclear power plant can function safely under the most unfavorable conditions have not been carried out so far. The environmental impact assessment of the power plant has been conducted in a non-transparent manner and does not meet the requirements provided for in the Espoo Convention. The ministerial conference of the UN Aarhus Convention has also recognized the violations. Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are not allowed to carry out an independent assessment of the site of the Astravyets nuclear power plant.
According to the President, the EU must assess very seriously the possibilities of limiting imports of electricity generated at the Astravyets nuclear power plant to the EU market and the relevant instruments. The Astravyets nuclear power plant must neither create any additional obstacles to the production of electricity within a country nor to the goals of improving energy efficiency or synchronizing the Baltic electricity grids with continental Europe.
Speaking about the progress in creating the EU’s energy union, the Vice-President of the Commission presented the Winter Package, which was approved last week. Dalia Grybauskaitė pointed out that this was a very important step the EU was making towards a new level of quality. The proposals included in the document will not only help to ensure the security of gas supply and avoid supply disruptions but will also preclude external suppliers and monopolists from dividing the unity of EU countries due to lower gas costs and affecting the external policies of the whole Community.
The Winter Package describes the LNG terminal built in Klaipėda a year ago as a perfect example of strengthening energy security. Emphasis is placed on its strategic importance to a secure gas supply for the whole region. During the meeting, the Vice-President of the European Commission thanked Lithuania for helping Croatia to build a similar LNG terminal. It was also agreed to jointly search for the most effective long-term solution to consolidate the achievements reached in the region.
It was also emphasized at the meeting that the second line of the gas pipeline Nord Stream, planned for construction under the Baltic Sea, contravenes the objectives of the EU’s energy union and can be used as a tool to fracture the unity of member states. Let alone, the President said, the commercial value of this project is very doubtful as only half of the capacity of the first line is used. According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, Nord Stream 2 can become a second Mistral test for the European Union, which would distort fair competition in the EU’s gas market and could become a tool for energy blackmail.