Renewable energies, main challenge in the formation of government in Latvia

Government formation in Latvia is closer after the new populist force in this Baltic country and fifth of the seven parliamentary parties agreed to join a coalition led by Krisjanis Karins, of New Unit (JV), with energy policy as main obstacle to overcome.

Karins, born in the United States and current member of the European Parliament (EP) assured the press yesterday that he expects that by Monday the five parties have submitted their candidates to the ministries and given their written approval to continue with the formation of government .

The Latvian president, Raimonds Vejonis, is expected to officially name Prime Minister Karins, 54, on Monday, more than ninety days after the parliamentary elections, although negotiations to agree on a government declaration that defines the priorities of the coalition could take at least another two weeks.

Only then, at the end of January, could his government submit to a vote of confidence in the Saeima (Parliament), Karins said.

The coalition of five parties began to take shape when De Que Es El Estado (KPVLV), considered a new populist force, joined the possible alliance after the other four groups accepted its conditions, mainly technical and uncontroversial.

But when Karins announced to have the support of KPVLV, within this formation seemed to draw a division and the signs of a battle around energy policies once seek to agree on a declaration of government.

Aldis Gobzems, one of the leaders of KPVLV and his prime minister candidate in a failed attempt to form a coalition at the end of last year, said he will not vote for the Karins government and will ask others of the 16 members of his group parliamentarians to do the same in what they consider "a matter of free choice".

Karins, meanwhile, said in a press conference that KPVLV had voted "by a large majority" to join the coalition and some media had spoken of at least thirteen deputies who would support the prime minister of New Unity, the smallest party in the world. Latvian Parliament with eight of the hundred seats.

Another difficulty for Karins could be the dispute over abolishing the so-called additional green energy rate to finance the generation of energy from renewable sources or the cogeneration of electricity and heat for the home and industry.

A spokesman for KPVLV said that his training will insist on the immediate abolition of the green surcharge on electricity stipulated by the European Union (EU) and known in Latvia by its abbreviation OIK, considering that it is an indirect unfair rate for the consumer and that it has been used fraudulently.

A research report by a television network uncovered several cases of OIK licenses granted to companies that produced little or no green energy.

The immediate abolition of the OIK surcharge was one of the main campaign issues of KPVLV in the October elections and part of a program that calls for radical restructuring and reform of the government, largely ignored while the parties make concessions to participate in the next executive.

The issue of green surcharge remains one of the radical demands of KPVLV that could try to move forward.

The outgoing government of Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis had proposed to dismantle the OIK scheme by 2022 and thus avoid possible lawsuits and sanctions for abruptly withdrawing licenses, including those that legitimize green energy producers.

According to Eurostat data from 2017, 37.6% of energy production in Latvia came from renewable energies, which places this Baltic country among the first in the EU in renewable, only behind Sweden and Finland.

Juris Kaža


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