Baltic unity shaken over Rail Baltica procurement

05. September 2016 zur Übersicht

Artikel erschienen am 5.09.2016 über Baltic News Network



The risk of losing money for Rail Baltica railway project first appeared because of the inability of the three Baltic States to agree on the organization of procurements in this project. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia had to reach an agreement on the so-called finding and realization model one year ago, De Facto reports.

In 2014, Baltic States founded RB Rail. This company’s duty is to oversee the railway design, construction and marketing. An agreement has been reached for the construction of stations and terminals – each country will decide on that on their own. The matter with large procurements, on the other hand, remains open.

Multiple sources have told De Facto that Lithuanians want to organize as many procurement projects as possible on a national level. RB Rail manager Baiba Rubesa does not hide the fact that there are those who are interested in seeing «Lithuanians build for Lithuanians using Lithuanian labour force».

Lithuania is already ahead of Latvia and Estonia – the country has already constructed its European rail line from Kaunas to the Polish border next to the existing railway line.

During his visit to Baltic States, Michael Cramer, head of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, expressed his dissatisfaction with Lithuania’s desire to organize separate procurements. If the three countries fail to find common ground, they could lose European financing. «Now we see hesitation, especially from Lithuania. They dislike the project. We have to exact pressure to make Baltic States work together. It is, in the end, a project mostly financed using European taxes. Construction has to begin,» – Cramer told LTV.

Ariandas Sliupas, Transport and Communication Vice-Minister of Lithuania, allows that someone may have misled the EP representative to ensure Baltic States fail to reach an agreement and lose the money. «We do not delay anything. Debates on some documents continue. We will finish everything in time. I see no risks of losing money. Everything progresses in a constructive manner, but someone does want to create a conflict among shareholders. I don’t know who, though,»- said Sliupas.

Latvia’s position is that large procurements should be organized jointly, because that would be cheaper. This does not apply to national projects, however. «Of course, there are certain points that we have to deal with on our own – we do not have similar railway stations. [Riga] central station is the way it is and the airport is the way it is. These matters are in the hands of each respectable member state,» – says Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis.

«If a fundamental agreement on funding and realization model is not reached by 7 September, I will watch with bated breath what happens next. It’s not the document that is important – it’s the contents. To give the joint company charge over funding or not to give. If not, I suspect the money will leave,» – Rubesa concluded.