Energy 1 June, 2018 10:00 am   

Will Estonia stop the exodus of the Baltic states?

Next month, an agreement will be reached on the synchronization of the power systems of the Baltic States with the continental Europe system. Nevertheless, Estonia still insists on building a connection with Poland – LitPol Link 2, despite the plans to use the LitPol Link 1 that has been functioning so far. Vilnius counts on a compromise, but there is less and less time – writes Piotr Stępiński, editor of

Lithuania is seeking a compromise

– I am inclined to state that there has been a change of position, but the Estonian side still emphasizes the need to build LitPol Link 2. In my opinion, this position is much closer to a compromise than it was a year or a half ago. Indeed, the position of Estonia in relation to the two threads of LitPol Link was very firm, which is why I believe that some decisions will be taken, interviews will be held. We need to find a compromise and we are working on it – said Lithuanian Minister of Energy, Žygimantas Vaiciunas.

Last week, during a meeting of the working group on synchronization of the Baltic market in Brussels, research on this project was presented. It was agreed that a political agreement on synchronization should be signed in June. In a conversation with journalists, a spokesman for the Lithuanian Minister of Energy said that the results of the research are to be approved next week.

June will be key

On the other hand, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis expects that a compromise will be reached with Estonia, but he does not exclude that Vilnius will implement this project only in Poland. – If we are talking about this project needed for geopolitical and strategic reasons, we are definitely looking for a compromise for too long. I think that the arguments and calculations presented in the research allow us to make a decision. If a compromise can not be reached, there is an alternative that Lithuania will use together with Poland. However, I hope that such a strategically important decision will be made on the basis of a compromise – he argued.

In this context, he stressed that the financial position of Vilnius is more acceptable. In his opinion, concerns about security should be supported by hard arguments. At the same time, he announced that between 3 and 4 June in Tallinn, the Prime Ministers of the three Baltic States and Poland will meet to talk about the synchronization project. The final political decision in this matter should be taken in June.

Time is running out

However, time is running out. The Baltic States and Poland have so far signed a preliminary agreement on synchronization. In May last year, Vilnius tried to convince Tallinn to use the existing connection with Poland. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to reach a compromise. The Lithuanians wanted to meet the fears of not only Estonia. Earlier, as Latvia and Estonia expressed doubts about the possibility of synchronization using the Lithuanian link LitPol Link 1, the operator of the Lithuanian transmission networks proposed building the second branch of this connection after 2025, when the Baltic states’ energy systems separate from the post-Soviet system IPS / UPS. It can not be ruled out that during the meeting announced for June, the Lithuanians will renew their offer or will turn to an alternative idea of ​​laying connections of Władysławowo-Klaipeda on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, proposed by Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne.

Nevertheless, Estonia alone should also be for a compromise, because the European Commission has made it a condition for supporting this project. At the beginning of February, the vice-president of the European Commission for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič announced that the agreed synchronization plan should be created by June. Otherwise Brussels will not support this undertaking. The Baltic States called for the provision of adequate funds in the European Union budget for this purpose. In this context, it should be recalled that in mid-April Brussels announced that it would co-finance the feasibility study of the synchronization project with the amount of 125 thousand euro.

Estonia wants to talk

The announcement of Tallinn that it is open to discussion about synchronization should be considered as positive. On the Twitter profile, the Estonian Ministry of Economy reminded that this topic has been discussed for over 10 years. – Now it is finally becoming reality. We hope that by 2025 we will no longer be a separate island, but part of European networks – the ministry wrote.

Moreover, after meeting with the EU energy and climate commissioner, Estonian Economy Minister Kadri Simson said there are no differences between Tallinn and the Commission regarding the synchronization itself, but Estonia still wants to expand the LitPol Link connection. It also stressed that further cooperation between the European Commission and other interested parts is important. In its opinion, it is important to take next steps in the matter of synchronization based on the connection with Poland.

It is possible that Poland will also have a stake in working out a compromise, as its energy relations with Lithuania have improved significantly after the March visit of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Minister of Energy Krzysztof Tchórzewski in Vilnius. The more that Poland seems not to be interested in the development of import capacities from the Baltic states, which could undermine the sense of investment in new production units (eg Elektrownia Ostrołęka C).

It is also worth noting that Warsaw, Vilnius and Tallinn have a common position towards the nuclear power plant being built in Ostrowiec, Belarus. In this context, it is worth paying attention to the changing rhetoric of Lithuania, which when speaking about the Belarusian atom used not only arguments related to security. It was emphasized that the energy produced there could endanger the entire synchronization process.

As you can see, there is a certain compromise field that would end disputes about synchronization. Nevertheless, on such important issues, the Baltic states should speak with one voice, because this project will allow them to definitively cut off from the energy heritage of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, lack of consent may slow down this process, which also counts Russia on, as it is afraid of the energy exodus of the Baltic states.