The Slovenia Times

Slovenia Says No to Priority List of EU Energy Projects

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Infrastructure and Spatial Planning Minister Samo Omerzel said that the list initially contained the Aquilinia terminal, which was later given the the more generic name gas terminal in the north Adriatic.

The name denotes the same project, Omerzel told the press in Ljubljana after a Slovenian representative objected to the list at a meeting in Brussels. "Behind this name is the same investor and location," said Omerzel.

A gas terminal in north Adriatic would be acceptable for Slovenia only if it were moved further into Italian waters, closer to Venice, said Omerzel.

He said that Italy had been very arrogant throughout the talks with Slovenia regarding the terminal. The minister hopes that Slovenia's move today will force Italy to negotiate.

Slovenia showed clearly today that it will fight for its interests, the minister said. The country will insist to have the project removed from the list, said Omerzel.

Meanwhile, the European Commission said it "takes note of the Slovenian opinion and will take it into account in the adoption process of the final Projects of Common Interest (PCI) in October".

Moreover, the Commission is committed "to stay fully engaged in talks with Slovenia and Italy to find a solution by the time when the EU-wide Union list is adopted by the Commission in autumn," wrote Commission spokesman Joe Hennon.

The press release reiterated that all projects on the list have to be compliant with the EU legislation, including environmental legislation and that the list will be reviewed every two years.

When Omerzel was asked whether the rejection could make Italy object to Slovenia's seven energy projects on the list, he said he doubted that diplomacy could afford that. "I doubt they will object our projects without arguments."

Initially, Slovenia planned to abstain, but decided to vote against the list on Monday, a decision the government confirmed at a correspondence session Wednesday morning.

A Commission spokesman explained yesterday that the list contained a loosely defined gas terminal in the north Adriatic because it was strategically important for the EU to have a gas terminal there.

The Commission called on all member states to approve the list and gave Slovenia and Italy until 20 September to reach an agreement. The final list is to be approved by the Commission on 2 October.

Nevertheless, the government decided to oppose the list unless the gas terminal in the north Adriatic is removed.

The government said that the terminal in Aquilinia would have many direct negative effects on the environment, society and economy, transport and safety.

It would introduce a special nautical regime, have negative effects on the environment due to outdated technology, as well as negative effects on health and the marine habitat.

Sources in Brussels told the STA that for the first time, Austria joined the debate on the gas terminal today, supporting Slovenia's efforts and insisting that the project must not interfere with the traffic in the Trieste port.

Sources moreover said that both Slovenia and Italy expressed their dedication to find a solution for the disputed project. However, if they cannot find a solution, Energy Commissioner G√ľnther Oettinger will have to decide whether to exclude the project.

Sources also warned that a lot is at stake. They said that the Aquilinia project is more likely to become reality if the gas terminal in the north Adriatic is stricken from the list.
 

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