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2020.12.02 09:17

Lithuanian president calls on EU to ban ‘unsafe’ energy, hinting at Belarus NPP

BNS2020.12.02 09:17

During a European Council meeting on Tuesday, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said that "electricity generated by unsafe power plants" that do not meet environmental and nuclear safety standards should not enter the EU market.

The president's office said in a statement that Nausėda did not specifically mention the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus, criticised by Lithuania.

Lithuania has been seeking a Baltic boycott of Belarusian electricity after the neighbouring country launched the Astravyets nuclear plant that Vilnius considers unsafe. But until Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania unplug from the Russian-controlled grid and synchronise with the European network by 2025, the Baltic states continue sharing a connection with Belarus.

Although the three countries agreed to block market access to Belarusian energy, Lithuanian officials have criticised Latvia for upping trade with Russia that allegedly opens the way for Astravyets' electricity to enter the Baltics via Moscow.

Read more: Lithuania's feud with Baltic states over energy trade – explainer

Read more: Lithuanian president asks Brussels to mediate in Baltic dispute over nuclear energy

On Tuesday, Nausėda took part in a video conference of the European Council, chaired by President of the European Council Charles Michel, held in preparation for the Council meeting in Brussels on 10–11 December.

The Lithuanian president also called on Brussels to agree on a border tax for important products if their producers fail to adhere to EU environmental and nuclear safety requirements.

The president said the measure was necessary to ensure fair competition in the EU market.

In December 2019, the Lithuanian president said that a sentence on safety standards included in the EU's Green Deal will stifle Belarus' nuclear energy exports.

Read more: Belarusian NGO reports incident at Astravyets nuclear plant

During Tuesday's meeting, European leaders also discussed ways to fight climate change. Nausėda confirmed Lithuania's commitment to seek a climate-neutral economy by 2050 and reach an interim goal of reducing greenhouse emission in the country by 55 percent by 2030.

The president believes that for these goals to be reached, the EU needs a clear action plan, confirmation of burden distribution criteria and adequate investment taking into account national specifics.

The Lithuania, Czech, Danish and Bulgarian leaders also shared their opinions on the EU relations with the United States, with the Lithuanian president speaking in favour of a close dialogue with the new US administration to bolster the EU–American transatlantic relations.

Speaking on the Belarusian issue, Nausėda underlined the importance to take further measures against the regime amid the ongoing human rights violations and to implement the adopted decision on the introduction of new EU sanctions by the end of the year.