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Baltic presidents discuss crisis mitigation, return to economic growth

VILNIUS – The presidents of the three Baltic countries on Wednesday discussed measures to mitigate the consequences of the crisis unleashed by the coronavirus and the strategy of return to sustainable growth.

"We will seek to make the Baltic region an example of success in returning to sustainable economic growth in the environment changed after the crisis. We’ve agreed to use both national and the European Union’s financial instruments and the political tools at our disposal so as to emerge even stronger after the crisis," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a press release.

“We will focus on the EU's digital, internal markets, research and its strengthening," he said.

Nauseda on Wednesday held a conference call to discuss response measures to COVID-19 and their effectiveness with his Latvian and Estonian counterparts Egils Levits and Kersti Kaljulaid.

The Lithuanian president pointed out during the conversation that the spread of coronavirus in Lithuania was getting more stable. He noted in particular that the process of testing had been intensified since the end of March and the government had adopted an economic and financial action plan worth 5 percent of GDP.

The leaders of the three countries also discussed cooperation between the Baltic countries in ensuring smooth transit of goods as well as the necessity to strengthen fight against disinformation.

The points of discussion also included the process of implementation of strategic infrastructure projects, such as Rail Baltica, a gas interconnection between Lithuania and Poland as well as the synchronization of electricity grids with those of continental Europe.

According to the office of the president of Lithuania, the presidents of the Baltic countries also touched upon the safety and security issues relating to the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus, emphasized the necessity to implement the recommendations of EU stress tests and to ensure compliance with other international environmental and nuclear safety requirements. In addition, they talked about refusal to purchase electricity from the Astravyets nuclear facility that is considered unsafe as well as from other unsafe power plants located in third countries.

A total of 2,674 coronavirus cases had been confirmed in the three Baltic countries by Wednesday noon, according to latest figures from official institutions collected by BNS. Deaths  related to the virus have hit 15 in Lithuania, two in Latvia and 24 in Estonia.

  • 2020-04-08

EU Commission approves EUR 110 mln Lithuania’s business support scheme

VILNIUS – The European Commission has approved Lithuania’s 110 million euros worth aid scheme to support business in the context of the coronavirus crisis.

The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission last month, the Commission said in a press release on Wednesday.

“This … scheme ... will enable public guarantees on loans to support Lithuania's economy during the coronavirus outbreak. It will help businesses cover immediate working capital needs and continue their activities during and after the pandemic,” the press release quoted Margrethe Vestager, the Commission’s Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy, as saying.

The support under the Lithuanian scheme will be open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large companies facing difficulties as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The aim of the scheme is to help businesses to cover their immediate working capital or investment needs, thus ensuring the continuation of their activities.

In total, the Lithuanian government plans to offer over 800 million euros in guarantees for bank loans to struggling businesses.

  • 2020-04-09