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EU agrees to fund power cable to Baltic states

THE European Union has agreed to allocate 175 million euros (US$240 million) to build an undersea power cable between Sweden and the Baltic states, Lithuania's Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said yesterday.

The decision is a major breakthrough for the Baltics, who despite joining the EU in 2004 will become dependent on Russian electricity after Lithuania shuts down its Chernobyl-type nuclear reactor at the end of the year.

According to the new project, the 350-kilometer cable will run beneath the Baltic Sea and connect Sweden with either Lithuania or Latvia. Construction should begin in 2010 and be completed by 2016.

So far, however, the two Baltic countries have been unable to agree who should get the link.

Kubilius met his Latvian counterpart, Valdis Dombrovskis, yesterday to discuss the project.

Dombrovskis expressed hope that a final decision would come soon. "It must be determined by experts. It's they, not politicians, who draw the lines on energy projects," he said.

Though Lithuania shares a border with Poland, another EU member, the two countries do not share the same electricity grid. The only connection between the Baltics and the European grid is an underwater cable between Estonia and Finland.


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