As part of the Energy Union tour, European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič is visiting Latvia on 1-2 February. The Energy Union is the EU's strategy to ensure that European citizens have access to secure, affordable and clean energy.
During the visit, he will meet Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, Minister of Economics and Deputy Prime Minister Arvils Ašeradens, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgards Rinkēvičs, and Minister of Finance Dana Reizniece-Ozola, as well as members of the Latvian parliament's European Affairs Committee. Discussions will focus on Latvian energy security and the planned synchronisation of the Baltic states' electricity grid with the Continental European Network as part of the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan, the liberalisation of Latvia's energy markets, and its progress towards its climate and energy targets for 2020 and 2030. The Vice-President will also participate in a Citizens' Dialogue and visit the site of the Kurzeme Ring Project in western Latvia, where a 330kV high voltage line is being constructed to boost the reliability of the region's electricity supplies.
Latvia's 37% share of renewable energy in its energy mix (according to 2016 figures) is the third highest in the EU, and considerably higher than the EU average (13%). This is one reason why it imports slightly less of its energy (51%) than the EU average, although it still relies almost completely on imports for petroleum products and natural gas. Until recently, all of the country's gas came from Russia, yet a recently-opened liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal at Klaipeda has allowed it to diversify sources of supply to some extent.
Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are working to synchronise their electricity networks with the European network (for historical reasons, they are currently synchronised with those of Russia and Belarus). The Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan initiative (BEMIP), coordinated by the Commission, provides a framework for these efforts and for other work to integrate the electricity and gas markets, including the needed energy infrastructure of the Baltic countries with each other and with the rest of Europe.
Latvia is on track to overachieve its 2020 target for limiting greenhouse gas emissions in sectors outside the EU Emissions Trading System by a large margin (9 percentage points).
Ahead of his visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said:
The synchronisation is the European Commission's top priority and my tour in Riga is yet another step to pave the way to a final political agreement on a synchronisation option by June European Council. This would allow us to prepare concrete projects and their financing from the Connecting Europe Facility under the current budgetary framework.
As part of the 2017-2018 Energy Union Tour, the Vice-President has already visited the Netherlands, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Portugal, Estonia, Belgium, Romania, France, Finland, Luxembourg, Greece and Croatia. Upcoming dates and more information on the tour are available here.
31 January 2018