Courtesy of    Feb 23, 2016

Vice-President of the European Commission (EC) responsible for the EU’s energy union Maros Sefcovic met with Lithuanian leaders on Monday to discuss the creation of the Energy Union, regional energy projects and concerns on the security of Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus.

Sefcovic started his two-day visit to Lithuania with meeting Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. According to the president’s Office, Grybauskaite emphasized the security concerns in regards to the Astravyets nuclear power plant which is being built in neighboring Belarus, around 50 kilometers away from Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.

“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 Lithuanian president was quoted as saying during the meeting in a press release.

Grybauskaite has also criticized the second line of the gas pipeline Nord Stream planned to be stretched under the Baltic Sea saying that it “can become a second Mistral test for the European Union.”

Lithuanian leaders and Vice-President of the EC have also discussed the creation of the energy union, the EU wide project aimed at creating a single energy market with integrated legislation and integrated systems.

Sefcovic has also presented the Winter Package, a proposal from the EC on new regulations aimed at strengthening energy infrastructure and increase the level of liquefied natural gas supplies in Europe.

It’s been more than a year since Lithuania built itself an LNG terminal to diversify its natural gas supplies and lower dependency on Gazprom, the Russian gas supplier. Lithuania’s LNG project has been put as an example by the Winter Package.

“We’ve been speaking about the LNG terminal in Klaipeda as the EU wide success story,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius told a press conference after the meeting.

During his stay in Lithuania, Sefcovic is to visit the country’s terminal in Klaipeda seaport, Western Lithuania. The Vice-President said he was pleased to come to the country that has managed to change its landscape in a “short period of time and in a positive manner.”

“For me it would serve as a clear example that if the energy union works, the prices go down,” said Sefcovic in a joint press conference. He highlighted that with the new terminal gas prices in Lithuania decreased from 36 euros per megawatt-hour to around 17 euros per megawatt-hour.

Butkevicius paid special attention to synchronization of the Baltic States’ electricity systems. After building electricity interconnection links with Poland and Sweden, the next most important strategic goal for Lithuania is the synchronization of electricity system with Europe, according to Butkevicius.

“We have a clear cut-off date when we would like to accomplish it and this would be 2025,” said the Vice-President of the EC.