A government press release on March 28 confirmed the move, which sets up a new organizational level in a bid to get the 5.8-billion-euro project back on track.
Minister of Transport Jānis Vitenbergs – who already had general government responsibility for Rail Baltica – has been appointed as the head of the thematic committee, and other members of the committee will include Minister of Finance Arvils Asheradens, Minister of Economy Ilze Indriksone, Minister of Justice Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Māris Springjuks and Minister of Health Līga Menģelsone, meaning that seven out of fifteen ministers will be involved.
"The main tasks of the thematic committee for solving cross-sectoral issues related to the implementation of the Rail Baltica project are to identify and evaluate cross-sectoral problems that hinder the implementation of the Rail Baltica project and to decide on solutions; to evaluate the financing issues of the Rail Baltica project, especially their impact on the state budget, before consideration by the government; conceptually agree on the necessary amendments to regulatory acts and ensure their development; if necessary, evaluate conflicting legal acts on issues within the competence of the thematic committee and agree on a solution before submitting them to the government for consideration," said the government press release.
The full cabinet will be informed about the performance results of the thematic committee – about half the cabinet – once every six months.
As previously reported by LSM, the thematic committee model for Rail Baltica envisages the creation of a two-tier council, which will consist of a Project Council and a Working Group, with the Working Group responsible for "the preparation of the decisions of the Project Council and the coordination of task execution".
The tasks to be performed by the Project Council will be "cross-sectoral issues, changes to the necessary regulatory acts, as well as the development of the national position on issues related to the Rail Baltica project, which can be resolved at the cross-sectoral, intergovernmental or European Commission level."
The Project Council will be formed by the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance.
The Working Group will include representatives of various institutions, depending on the content of the issue under consideration, including the active involvement of VAS "Latvijas valsts meži", VAS "Latvijas Valsts ceļi", related municipalities and the Union of Latvian Municipalities.
So it appears that the Working Group will report to the Project Council, which will report to the Thematic Committee, which will report to the Cabinet of Ministers, all of which is part of a process designed to get things moving faster.
A joint venture of the three Baltic states, RB Rail, is responsible for actually implementing the Rail Baltica project, which was originally slated to start running in 2026 but which now seems unlikely to be ready until 2030 at the earliest.
Rail Baltic Estonia OU in Estonia, Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas SIA in Latvia, Rail Baltica statyba UAB and LTG Infra in Lithuania are the national implementing bodies and have their own committees and working groups, too.
The government has adopted a strategy of forming various thematic committees to move its priorities along and improve cooperation. The first thematic committee of the Cabinet of Ministers was the thematic committee of the Civil Defense and Disaster Management System. There's also a thematic committee for Digital Transformation and Administration Modernization, and another one for EU Funds.