Saturday, 2 January 2010

An Example of the EU Dividend

Five years ago Lithuania joined the European Union.

One of the conditions of its membership is that over 2,000 people would become unemployed on 31 December 2009.

On Friday the Ignalina nuclear plant delivered its last watt of electricity. This plant was Lithuania's only nuclear power plant and although it was dubbed unsafe due to its Chernobyl-style safety system, its shutdown was a key condition for Lithuania's entry to the EU.

Few across Europe will mourn the closure of an old 1970s Soviet designed nuclear plant, but the consequences for the Lithuanian economy will be severe. Up to now the plant daily produced more electricity than Lithuania's entire 3.5 million-strong population could consume.

The country will now have to import energy, where it exported it before and plans for a replacement plant are a long way off. There is no mention whatsoever about a renewables programme.

I wonder who will be the winner(s) in this one? Certainly not the people of Lithuania who will now be forced to import expensive electricity while the world is in the midst of one of the most severe economic crises.


Oldrightie said...

They'l probably be forced to import people to increase demand. We have.

Witterings from Witney said...


So Lithuania exchanged one form of slavery for another.

One also has to question the mindset of those that ,dreamed up this 'condition' and those that agreed to it; both members of which groups will not be the ones who suffer, that you can bet on!

Quiet_Man said...

Just another reason we should get out as soon as possible. They make decisions for the benefit of the EU, not the UK (or Lithuania) and the price is often jobs.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed, seconded.

Don't forget the EU want us to shut down a lot of our coal and oil fired power stations, so that they can flog us windmills or French nukes or whatever.

Keith Ruffles said...

Hang on a second, Subrosa. If the shutdown of the Ignalina power station was a condition of EU entry - itself subject to democratic approval from Lithuania - the powers that be in Vilnius would have known about this for years and should have made preparations for its workforce after closure. This is not some sudden closure that has caught everyone off guard. One may also wonder why Lithuania has allowed itself to become so overdependent on one solitary fuel source and one with a poor safety record to boot.

Further, that the plant utilised the same design as Chernobyl - home to the worst civil nuclear disaster in history and one which still blights areas of the Ukraine and Belarus - is a cause for EU-wide concern. Had the thing exploded everyone would be demanding why the plant was still up and running in the 21st century. Perhaps that's the real benefit to Lithuania's population.

Anonymous said...

Tend to agree with Ruffles here. They had enough time to build a coal fired plant or, double quick, build a Swedish or French designed nuclear one in the time and if they were smart paid by Bruxelles as part of the accession accord.

MekQuarrie said...

KR has stolen my thunder a little on this (Greek mythological irony intended). This piece is a little more grimly presented than your normal well-argued turns. Are you too shy to follow up on your implication that all 2000 will have got on a bus yesterday morning and are already on their way to sell the Big Isssue in City Square?
No-one forced Lithuania to join the EU. Whether or not they had at some point a crusading journalist or two would have pointed out the similar dangers with the Ukrainian disaster. We would then be making more strident demands with less 'cards'.
I feel confident that these brave power station workers will be given consideration when the replacement comes online in 2013...

subrosa said...

I don't think the Lithuanian politicians thought this through OR, they were too desperate to join the EU and get handouts.

subrosa said...

Oh indeed WfW. Why didn't they insist they closed this plant BEFORE the Lithuanians had membership.

subrosa said...

I would agree we ought to have a comprehensive rethink about the EU QM.

subrosa said...

I'm hanging on Keith.

As I said previously, why did the EU allow this plant to operate for 5 years after the Lithuanian membership if it was so dangerous?

Why didn't the EU insist that firm proposals were on the table for new power supply plants?

Doesn't make sense to me to allow someone entry to a 'club' when they possess a seriously dangerous weapon such as this nuclear plant.

Don't tell me the EU were being kind of understanding allowing Lithuania the 5 years - they don't operate in that way.

They also appear to have done nothing to ensure the Lithuanians have used any monies to ensure power sources were provided on the closure of this plant.

Something not quite right here.

subrosa said...

Bug, see my reply to Keith.

Nikostratos said...

Most Lithuanians live and work in the UK so are probably indifferent to
what happens in the old country.

Well the ones i know are saying Their country is like living in the middle ages and after being here in a modern country for a few years.
Have no intention of ever going back.

subrosa said...

No not in the least Mek and I entirely agree the answer lies with the Lithuanian politicians.

But where was the help from the EU? I've dug around google and find nothing which says the Lithuanians had any advice from the EU. They're an impoverished country which possibly relied upon the wealthier countries bailing them out. Why not? Most other countries do that and Gordon Brown is so keen to throw money at them.

MekQuarrie said...

And excellent discussion as always, SR.

There is some suggestion (on Wikipedia) that the EU provided several billion euros in decomissioning money. That at least is money that Lithuania does not have to find; the slate is cleared on that account. They can then plan their energy policy forward.

subrosa said...

You flatter me Mek but thank you.

If they don't have to find the decommissioning money that's fine but what I visualise happening is that it will be spent on the high cost of the power they now have to buy.

Will be interesting to watch this story develop.

Apogee said...

Hi SR.
I seem to remember that the reason the Chernobel Plant blew up was not so much the design faults as the management of the plant playing with it like a toy and disconnecting the safety systems; this was pure stupidity of the socialist variety, whatever the quality of the design.
Seems the main point of the story was, for whatever reason ,the workers were paid off very quickly, and as the power plant was the only work,the town was built to service the plant,the workers had to leave the district to find work they could do.
But this does leave the Lithuanians at the mercy of the EU, probably the reason!


subrosa said...

Your last sentence echoes my thoughts Apogee. The EU has another slave at their beck and call.

banned said...

Since this plant posed a Europewide problem bequeathed to us by the defeated Soviet common enemy I would have had no problem with the EU using our money to build a replacement facilty in Lithuania in the 5 intervening years. Why was this not done?

subrosa said...

I've tried to find out more info about it banned but haven't succeeded so far.

You'll see Mek says Wiki suggests they were given money for the decommissioning but I would have thought a plan for a new provision, made together with the EU, would have been sensible.

Then again, perhaps the EU just thought the free market would reign supreme.

Vigilante said...

I don't know what's best for y'all and so I'm not telling you. But I'm still thinking I'm pro-EU! But I did wake up to the Beeb the other morning, sat up in bed I did, scratching my head, wondering about the wisdom of shutting down Lithuania's nuclear power, making it one more part of the EU more hostage to Czar Putin's whims. I thought that was freaking idiotic. Lithuanians should be left to determine the wisdom of their nuclear energy and not be subject to a 'one size fits all' mentality.

Vigilante said...

Oldrighty, is that avatar a Doberman (or Doberwoman) by any chance?

subrosa said...

Ah the EU Vigil, now there's a conundrum if there ever was one!

I did a poll a few weeks ago. Think it was 65% who wanted out of it.

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