On 28 October, representatives from the Baltic States signed a landmark agreement which will launch the project Rail Baltica and bring the Baltic region closer to Western Europe.
Rimantas Sinkevičius
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

By terms of the agreement, a joint Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian venture responsible for the Rail Baltica project will be set up in Riga, Lithuania's Ministry of Transport and Communications said.

"This agreement represents a historic moment for the Baltic countries as it confirmed the official beginning of the project and confirmed that we are taking real steps towards being fully integrated into the European Union. In addition, we are pleased that the provision for the Vilnius connection was included in the contract by common agreement. For Lithuania, it was an important condition in order to develop the project further. Vilnius connection will increase not only the Lithuanian value of the project, but the whole project as well," said Rimantas Sinkevičius, minister of transport of Lithuania.

According to the minister, the fact that the project may be eligible for up to 85 percent EU co-financing is essential. "We believe that Rail Baltica will be within the priorities of the decision-making process of fund allocations," he said.

It is expected that 85 percent of the project value will be funded by the EU. Among the priorities of the established joint venture is the preparation of a collective three Baltic States' application for the CEF funding. The deadline to submit this application is 26 February 2015.

"This agreement means that starting from now we talk about Rail Baltica in present and not future tense. This is an exceptional scale international project, therefore, together with our partners we will seek to ensure that the benefits and new opportunities provided by Rail Baltica are felt by all Baltic citizens and businesses," said Dainius Budrys, director of Rail Baltica Statyba.

Each Baltic State will own one-third of RB Rail shares. The most important decisions will be approved by the Supervisory Board where each shareholder will nominate two members. The joint venture will coordinate how the project is implemented in every country, coordinate the progress of the project and provide administrative services. In the joint venture, Lithuanian will be represented by Lithuanian Railways subsidiary Rail Baltica Statyba, a company established at the beginning of this year.

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