Rubesa: Extent of EU funding for Rail Baltica unclear after Brexit

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Baiba Rubesa, CEO of RB Rail AS, the joint venture established to oversee the Rail Baltic railroad project, said that it is difficult to predict to what extent the project will receive European funding after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

Rubesa said that with Brexit on the horizon the European Union was moving into a new financing era. "Assuming that Brexit is going to happen I think all bets are off for business as usual in the EU so we are working hard to make sure we are able to retain our priority project status," Rubesa told Euronews April 12.

"The three Baltic countries — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — on their own just cannot afford something like this

"There is an extreme likelihood of continued financing because this is a priority project because it established one of the last missing links in Europe," she said. "But then the questions is: what is the intensity rate of financing and over what time will it come?"

Rubesa said other challenges — financing aside — include alignment and cooperation between Baltic countries on the projects and local environmental concerns, such as creating crossings for animals in Estonia.

Rubesa decline to comment on the expression of no confidence in Rubesa by Estonian and Lithuanian shareholders of RB Rail, only saying "we have had dialogue over this and I am clearly still in my position".

Rubesa added that construction is expected to start in 2020.

EU has committed itself to earmarking €1.2 billion in support to the project in the Baltic states in 2014-2020. Some €110 million were granted additionally. The project is estimated at €5.8 billion, under preliminary terms. The project should be completed by 2026.

The Rail Baltic project foresees the construction of a European standard gauge double track electrified railway line from Tallinn to the Lithuanian-Polish border.

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