Baltic transport ministers meet in Vilnius to discuss the common objectives of the Baltic States
The ministers of communications of the three Baltic States – Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – are meeting today in the capital of Lithuania. At the annual meeting, the ministers will discuss issues vital for the three countries and for the first time test a driverless car on city streets in Lithuania.
The meeting is attended by the Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communications Rokas Masiulis, the Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson, and the Latvian Minister of Transport Uldis Augulis.
“Today we are going to discuss issues that are vital for all three Baltic States. The most important issue is the Rail Baltica infrastructure project implemented by the three countries. We will discuss the progress of the project, its challenges and further steps to ensure that the railway is successfully put into operation by 2026,” pointed out the Lithuanian minister Masiulis.
The ministers will address the strategic issue of the management of the newly built Rail Baltica after 2025. The management of this railway infrastructure is a matter of great importance in order to ensure the effective transportation of freight and passengers and exploit new possibilities, by taking into consideration economic and national security needs.
The ministers will also assess the possibility to strengthen cooperation in upgrading the Via Baltica highway, in an attempt to launch the pilot projects of intelligent transport systems. The countries will seek to exchange road data, provide information services for travellers, and develop the network of secure parking areas for trucks and the network of alternative fuel stations.
The ministers of the Baltic States will also address the important issues of the EU agenda. One of them is legislative proposals concerning the Mobility Package. Estonia, which currently holds the presidency of the Council of the EU, is presiding over the discussion of EU countries about the creation of a common EU road transport market which should be socially responsible and at the same time open for business. At the meeting in Vilnius the ministers intend to agree on a common objective – to achieve a balance between social aspects and a common liberalised market.
The Lithuanian minister Masiulis will present the participants of the meeting with the problem of accessibility of geographically peripheral countries by air transport. In his opinion, this problem is also vital for other EU countries. It will be noted that measures aimed at improving air transport are not fully applied, and some rules need to be updated.
The ministers will discuss the EU’s future multiannual financial perspective for 2021–2027; the preparation for the implementation of the perspective will start in 2018. The participants of the meeting will highlight the common objective of the three Baltic States to secure EU funding for major international infrastructure projects, such as Rail Baltica.