Rail Baltic Project Standing Still
The plan to construct a high-speed train connection between Poland and the Baltic nations has seen no progress since last year, with Lithuania still demanding the line also connect to Vilnius.
The Deputy Transport Minister of Lithuania, Arijandas Šliupas, told ERR Radio on Tuesday that a recent decision by the European Commission to deem Lithuania's demand for a connection to the capital, Vilnius, illegal is not entirely correct and his ministry sees no breach.
Indrek Sirp, head of the Estonian side of the project, said negotiations have come to a halt and need to continue at higher-up, ministerial levels. A meeting between the ministers of the countries has been planned for the end of April.
The first round of EU funding has a September deadline and the project must be submitted by then, or run the risk of losing funding. Pavel Telička, a representative of the European Commission, said he does not understand Lithuania's recent opposition to the initial Rail Baltic plan, which would have connected Kaunas, but not Vilnius, to the high-speed track. The initial plan was approved by all member states, including Lithuania.
Latvia and Estonia could move forward with the plan with Lithuania joining after the September deadline has passed, Telička said, adding that Lithuania should still drop its demands, especially in the light of a heightened need for European integration.