The United States played a leading role at the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) Summit that took virtually place on 19 October in Tallinn, Estonia.
The US agreed to pledge up to 1 billion euros to the 3SI, as announced by Keith Krach (pictured above), the Trump administration’s Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment. Mr Krach said that the US would match 30 per cent of the combined contribution of all twelve 3SI participating nations (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia).
“The more each country invests, the more we invest,” he said.
The main targeted investments concern the transport sector, energy and digital infrastructures while the 3SI aims to alleviate what is by some estimates a shortfall in investments of over 1 trillion euros in comparison with the 3SI countries’ Western EU neighbours.
As a matter of fact, by area, the Three Seas countries represent almost a third of the European Union and are home to 111 million people. However, figures from 2018 show that their average GDP per capita is just 78 per cent of the EU average. At the same time, the average economic growth in the 12 countries from 2015-2019 was 3.5 per cent compared to 2.1 per cent in the EU.
While a year ago, only Poland and Romania had put money in the Initiative, this year that number had grown to nine, as Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Slovenia and Croatia have also joined. In this regard, Beata Daszynska-Muzyczka, President of the Polish State Development Bank and also chair of the 3SI Investment Fund (3SIIF) supervisory board, announced her organisation’s decision to grant an additional investment of 250 million euros to the 3SIIF.
Representatives from the United States found a very promising ground, especially regarding the issue of energy dependency and the possibility to oust China and Russia’s influence.
“Strong energy sector results in a strong economic system and strong national security. Without energy you don’t have any of those,” said US Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes, noting that the US was committed to helping the region divest itself of its reliance on too small a field of energy suppliers.
Diversification of gas supply sources and integration of gas infrastructure is a key project for the Three Seas Region, a project that can be achieved through the implementation of the Baltic Pipe project and cross-border interconnections in Poland and Slovakia and between Poland and Ukraine.
To assure a further diversification in the energy mix, US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Poland’s Secretary of State for Strategic Energy Infrastructure Piotr Naimski discussed the signing of the first Intergovernmental Agreement to cooperate on the development of Poland’s civil nuclear power program.
The US Department of Energy reminded how President Donald Trump had already promised Poland energy security when he stated that “we are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbours are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.”
The Agreement provides that over the next 18 months, the United States and Poland will work together on a report delivering a design for implementing Poland’s nuclear power program, as well as potential financing arrangements.
“The US is committed to working with Poland to advance its national security, its regional security, and its democratic sovereignty,” said Secretary Brouillette. “The Trump Administration believes the key to energy security is energy diversity – a diversity of fuels, sources and routes. Nuclear will provide a clean and reliable supply of electricity to the people of Poland, as well as enhance their energy diversity and security. The next generation of nuclear energy must be a part of the energy security conversation with our allies in Europe and around the world.”
“This agreement is not only about clean energy and its security of supply,” added Mr Naimski. “It is about geopolitical security, long-term economic growth, technological advancement and development of a new industrial sector in Poland.”
In other words, what Secretary Brouillette emphasised is the opportunity to link both the US and the CEE infrastructure and energy markets in ways that will generate economic security for generations to come.