Estonia's commissioner-designate for energy, Kadri Simson, said on Thursday that the European Union could provide financial assistance to Belarus' Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant to help it meet the highest safety standards.
At a confirmation hearing at the European Parliament (EP), Simson said that she “does know” that the Astravyets nuclear power plant “is a very important political question for all the Lithuanians because it is being built close to their capital”.
“What we can do with sites of new nuclear power plants that are built in third countries – we can provide assistance so that the building and maintenance take place under the highest security standards,” the candidate said when asked by Lithuanian MEP Bronis Ropė what specific actions she would take “to prevent a new Chernobyl disaster next to the EU border”.
“We can also provide financial assistance to sites in third countries so that these procedures are followed and, of course, we can insist that all the stress test results are taken very seriously,” Simson said.
“So, the Astravyets nuclear power plant will be operational, but we will provide guidance how to fulfill all the security requirements according to the highest security standards. At the same time, the European Union will also provide support to Lithuania to be ready for possible emergency cases,” she added.
Ropė said he wanted a more specific reply and went on to ask her what steps she would take to prevent the Astravyets plant's electricity from entering the EU market.
In her reply, Simson noted that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania “are together in our energy policy and are working closely to get synchronized with Continental Europe”.
The Estonian commissioner-designate mentioned that the EU should look at how to bar market access for “dirty” electricity.
“The problem of cross-border electricity trade [with third countries] is not only about nuclear power plants, but also power plants that use coal but don't pay CO2 fees, and that's why they have competitive advantages compared to European power plants,” she said. “We have to look closely at how this kind of competition influences our markets.”