3rd Three Seas Initiative Summit to Boost Eastern EU Craves Backing from Western Europe
Romania’s capital Bucharest is hosting on Tuesday the 3rd annual summit of the Three Seas Initiative, a project to develop cross border ties in 12 EU member states from Central and Eastern Europe, which, however, has been seen somewhat lukewarmly by the western part of the EU.
The Three Seas Initiative refers to the countries among the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Sea. It aims to expand regional energy infrastructure such as import terminals liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas pipelines, including in order to reduce the region’s energy dependence on Russia.
With the United States as a major source of LNG imports, the Three See Initiative has won the backing of US President Donald Trump who attended the 2017 summit in the Polish capital Warsaw.
The 12 participants in the initiative include the three Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), the four Visegrad group states (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic), and Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Austria, with Austria being the only “old” EU member state, as all the others have joined the EU after 2004.
The first Three Seas Initiative summit in Dubrovnik, Croatia, back in 2016 raised the profile of the so called “Via Carpatia” expressway from the Baltic Sea to Thessaloniki on the Aegean.
Another keynote project of the initiative is the establishment of two terminals for US LNG: in Swinoujscie, Poland, and in Krk, Croatia. Among other things, many of the Three Seas initiative members are worried by the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and Poland, fearing it would worsen the EU’s energy dependence on Russia.
The goal of the third Three Seas summit is too boost ties with the rest of the EU, and Germany in particular, with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker scheduled to attend. So is US Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
However, there have been concerns in Germany that the Three Seas Initiative might be expected serve as a north-south axis in Central and Eastern Europe counterbalancing the “old” Western European core of the EU.
Before the Bucharest summit, Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis declared, as cited by DW, that the Three Seas Initiative must demonstrate that it can markedly reduce Central and Eastern Europe’s economic gap with Western Europe, as well as work to consolidate trans-Atlantic relations.
The 3rd Three Seas Initiative summit will be the first to feature an international economic forum, which is also to be attended by representatives of the EU’s Eastern Partnership countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, and from the Western Balkans.
(Banner image: Wikipedia)