Crete-Athens link consensus seen as foundation for solution

Top-level Greek, Cypriot and European commission energy officials, expected to soon meet for a three-way meeting, will seek to build on existing common ground with the aim of resolving a dispute concerning control of the Crete-Athens segment of a wider PCI-status Greek-Cypriot-Israeli interconnection project.

A date for this meeting has yet to be announced but it will bring together Greece’s energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, Cypriot counterpart Giorgos Lakkotrypis, and the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete.

All sides agree that the Crete-Athens link is currently at a more mature development stage than the Crete-Cyprus segment, meaning the latter should not affect the development of the former. Consensus also exists on the need for the Crete-Athens section to be technically compatible with the wider Athens-Cyprus project. In addition, all sides agree that the project is of bilateral interest, which should increase the likelihood of EU funding.

The Athens-Crete-Cyprus interconnection project is believed to meet all prerequisites for a high EU subsidies grading that would secure up to 60 percent of its total cost, while favorable loan terms could also be achieved for the remainder of the project’s cost through the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, commonly known as the Juncker Plan, and the European Investment Bank.

European Commission officials believe these advantages can break the deadlock and propel the three parties towards an agreement without further delays.

Crete faces a looming energy sufficiency threat as of 2020, when high-polluting diesel-fueled power stations operating on the island will need to be withdrawn.