Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
One year ago we witnessed, here in the Berlaymont, the first step in the integration of the gas markets of the Baltic Sea region within the EU. At that time Poland and the Baltic States agreed to build the pipeline known as GIPL connecting Poland and Lithuania.
Today, I have the honour, together with my friends, the Prime Ministers of Finland and Estonia, to witness the second step: the signature of the agreement for the construction of the gas pipeline linking Finland and Estonia: The Balticconnector. This will, for the first time, link the gas markets of Finland and Estonia.
But today we are doing more than simply linking the gas systems of two countries. We are bringing people and Member States in the region closer together.
As part of the Energy Union strategy, we are building missing energy links; we are uniting markets, we are improving security of supply and increasing competition by providing alternative supply channels. But more importantly we are ending the energy isolation of Member States.
I have a strong preference for pipelines that unite rather than for pipelines that divide. The Balticconnector is a common European project that unites European countries and European interests.
It is a truly unifying project with exceptional benefits. That is why the European budget is supporting it financially and supported its construction with a grant of € 187 million.