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Baltic prime ministers sign Rail Baltic agreement

The three Baltic prime ministers at the signing of the Rail Baltic agreement in Tallinn. Jan. 31, 2017.
The three Baltic prime ministers at the signing of the Rail Baltic agreement in Tallinn. Jan. 31, 2017. Source: (Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR)

Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis and Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis signed the Rail Baltic agreement in Tallinn late Tuesday morning.

The agreement, among other things, will set a framework for construction deadlines, the planned railway's route as well as a number of technical details.

The agreement will not be placed before the Riigikogu for ratification before April, when the results of a fresh cost-benefit analysis will be published. The authors of the study, however, have previously hinted that compared to the previous analysis, this one will be more optimistic. Regardless, a number of unanswered questions remain in relation to the multinational railway project.

Kristjan Kaunissaare, Rail Baltic coordinator at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, said that the ministry considers the greatest problem to be the prevailing uncertainty regarding European financing beginning in 2021, i.e. the next financial perspective.

The assumption is that funding will continue on the same scale as currently, which means that the EU would foot the bill for 81 percent of construction costs while 19 percent would be self-financed by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania themselves.

Should the EU end up delivering bad news about the next financial period, however, that may mean that the three Baltic states will have to contribute more financially to the project than initially planned.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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