17 September 2018

The Three Seas Initiative, gases, infrastructure and conflict of interests


The Three Seas initiative started three years ago, as a security regional project, during the conflict in Ukraine, but at the moment has a stronger economic and regional cooperation meaning.

Image source: Mediafax

The fundamental idea seems to be that the initiative should be transformed in a vehicle which serves members’ interests, where EU and NATO cannot do it enough, mainly in the regional, infrastructure and energy plan.

The Three Seas initiative- Baltic, Adriatic and the Black Sea- reunites Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia and it was presented at the end of September, 2015, at UN’s General Assembly from New York, as a demarche coming from Croatia’s president, Kolinda Grabar- Kitarovic and Poland’s president Andrzej Duda. In August 2016, in Dubrovnik, is also adopted a common pledge of the 12 states, and in the summer of 2017 takes place the second forum of the initiative, whereat participated also the American president, Donald Trump.

Economically, the initiative means 28% from the European GDP, worth $1. 400 billion, for 114 million inhabitants. Even if in the area were built, in the last 20 years, around 5. 600 km of highways, it is needed, according to the international studies, around 615 billion euros for the investments in infrastructure and logistic, to get to West’s countries level. Generally, the big transport halls were placed on the east-west direction, hence the infrastructure projects discussed across the Three Seas Initiative, which connects north and south of the continent, are nothing but welcomed.

Two big infrastructure projects were until now on initiative’s agenda, and we are talking about the Via Charpatia highway and a transport project for liquefied natural gases (LNS).

Via Charpatia should connect the Lithuanian port Klapeida to Salonic. The road would cross through Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania (where there is also a connection to the port Constanta), Bulgaria and Greece and will include also highways, which are already being exploited, from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

The project for LNS involves a gases terminal from Poland, which is already working in the Baltic port Swinoujscie and a second one, which should be completed next year in Croatia, on the Krk island. The distribution conduits will connect initiative’s member states, and the project is created as an alternative to the Russian gas, which most of the member states of the Three Seas Initiative depend on.

Another domain of the project is focused on the digital sector, which is on discussion’s agenda from Bucharest. And, even if at the moment 9 of the 12-member states of the initiative are under EU’s average of Digital Economy and Society Index, there are analysts who are talking about digital highways, data islands, and even an intelligent vehicles fleet, without a driver, which on 2035 would connect Tallinn to Zagreb.

Romania will propose at Initiative’s Summit from Bucharest, which starts on Monday, other projects, like “Rail 2 Sea”, which is about a 3. 663 km railway starting from Gdansk port and which ends in Constanta. In the digital domain, Romania offers, among others, the idea of creating a platform for real time monitoring waters from the hydrographical basins placed in the region of the Three Seas Initiative, which will offer the possibility to identify the pollution factors, but also to analyze the risks. The second project is about creating a digital intelligent platform for transport and logistic services transactions, meanwhile the third proposal Romania is offering is defining and developing a process map to a tenable and digitalized energetic sector and creating a digital platform for the energy archive domain.

In the transport domain Romania proposes also the project FAIRway Danube for repairing and maintaining Danube’s sailing line and its navigable affluent. For the energy, Romania wants to develop the national system of natural gases transport on the BRUA hall.

For projects’ financing, the Three Seas Initiative officials decided to create an investments fund, worth 100 billion euros, an initiative of the Gospodarstwa Krajowego Bank, the national polish development bank. The bank will collaborate with 11 bank institutions from initiative’s spaces, and a letter of intention is about to be signed in Bucharest, according to the information from the international press. The fund will start working next year and will not have a head office, the executives’ board getting to meet alternatively, in the members’ countries.

Of course, we cannot talk about economy without little geopolitics, so we must mention that Initiative’s projects got in US and China’s attention, which are studying how to get the Three Seas Initiative close to the One Belt, One Road project; paradoxically, Brussels did not confirm yet, officially, about the project (unofficially, there were a lot of voices accusing the Three Seas for being a separatist project).

President Trump promoted, at the first summit of the Warsaw initiative, the American LNS sells, talking, in his speech, about the BRUA conduit or about buying weaponry, without referring to Russia. On the other hand, Europe is caught in an interest’s game focused on natural gases, where the actors- Germany, Russia, the East countries, Ukraine, the US, do and undo conduits, contracts and alliances. The LNS project of the Three Seas Initiative can influence the European market, and here is one of the keys to interpret Germany’s recent processes to enter the alliance, but also America’s benevolence closeness.

The Three Seas Initiative is now the space of projects and proposals, and it is a process that Europe needs at the moment, for politic and economic reasons, because in a world which is dividing, the land between the three seas can become a collaboration space.