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EU Commissioner supports Lithuania’s position on Astravas Nuclear Power Plant

2016-04-15

Yesterday, Minister of Environment Kęstutis Trečiokas met with Miguel Arias Canete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, in Amsterdam to discuss climate change mitigation issues relevant for the Community.

The Minister drew the Commissioner’s attention to nuclear safety problems of particular importance for our country, caused by the Astravas Nuclear Power Station under construction in Belarus at the Lithuanian state border, a mere 50 km from Vilnius. In the opinion of Lithuania, this construction is illegal as Belarus has committed some essential breaches of the substance and procedures of the Espoo Convention, and has yet failed to answer our country’s repeated questions on the safety of this nuclear plant and its possible impact on the environment and population of Lithuania. Nor were any answers provided for the session of the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee held in Geneva a month ago, although the recommendations presented at the meeting of the Parties to this Convention in June 2014 had stated that Belarus had to continue the environmental impact assessment process and answer the questions of Lithuania.

Commissioner M. A. Canete expressed his approval for Lithuania’s position that the Astravas Nuclear Power Plant project had to meet all the requirements of the Espoo Convention and nuclear safety. According to the Commissioner, the European Commission will make efforts to achieve that Belarus appropriately conducts the assessment of the potential environmental impact of the power plant and the so-called “stress test” applicable to nuclear power plants, which would help to evaluate whether adequate safety measures are ensured to resist extreme natural events.

At the meeting the discussion was concerned with the proposals currently being prepared by the European Commission and intended for the implementation of the EU climate change policy. The key aim of this policy is to reduce GHG emissions in the Community at least by 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. The sectors covered by the European GHG Emissions Trading Scheme will have to cut their emissions by 43%, compared to 2005 levels, while those not covered by the scheme (agriculture and transport) will have to reduce them by 30%. At present, the European Commission is working on proposals for emission reduction targets in each EU member state for the sectors not covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Gathered for an informal meeting in Amsterdam yesterday, Minister Kęstutis Trečiokas and the other EU Ministers of Environment and Transport today will complete discussions on the “greening” of transport in the Community, the promotion of the use of clean or green vehicles and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from aviation and marine transport.

Communication Division
15.04.2016

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas