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Lithuanian Presidency

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENCY: Vilnius wants to restore EU's credibility
4 July 2013
Agence Europe

Brussels, 03/07/2013 (Agence Europe) – On 3 July, Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaité presented the European Parliament with the programme of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. She stressed that Lithuania is ready “to build a European consensus for a stronger, more unified future”. Coming to the end of this European Parliament, “we will be in charge of an exceptional job (…) with a lot of decisions [to make] in a short period of time (…). Delaying the decisions would be a failure on the part of the leadership”, Grybauskaité stated. While the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers is going to have to work on the legislative texts linked to the multiannual financial framework, it also wants to show that “the EU is credible, growing and open” (the key themes of the Presidency).

In Grybauskaité's view, “restoring the credibility of the EU is the first stage in improving the European economy”. She stressed the need to implement the measures already taken and of finding a way to work together “especially by coordinating budgetary policies more”. The construction of a true economic and monetary union must be pursued, a functioning banking union must be set up, and single resolution mechanism must be advanced as far as possible, she said. The leader of the European Parliament's S&D Group, Hannes Swoboda (Austria), called on the new Presidency “to go less quickly and to do more to support growth”. “An economic union is needed which combines budgetary consolidation, growth and the social dimension”, he added. The social dimension was also stressed by Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL, Germany).

In order to win back confidence, sustainable growth is also needed, Grybauskaité stated. Lithuania “will focus all its efforts” on employment, particularly for young people. This was a priority also raised by Jill Evans (Greens/EFA, United Kingdom), who wants follow up on the measures taken. In the Lithuanian Presidency's view, “the key is the common services market”, including the services directive, a framework for cross-border workers, and a climate policy with a careful assessment of competitiveness and industry. “An internal market that functions better will bring more growth”, Grybauskaité added, stressing that Vilnius intends to complete the initiatives of the first single market act and to make progress on the second, and also on the digital agenda.

There is no internal market in energy, Grybauskaité added. Energy is therefore one of her priorities. She “will try to accelerate work in these domains. We will follow up on the implementation of the measures adopted and (…) we are convinced that more money needs to be mobilised for modern infrastructure”. “The European energy network needs to be improved, but this will not be done without Europe (…). We hope that the Presidency will be a decisive stage in the creation of a true European energy community”, said the leader of the EPP, Joseph Daul (France).

Speaking for the ALDE Group, Cecilia Wikstrom (Sweden) considers it important to obtain results on the proposals on work and legal immigration. The Lithuanian Presidency is also “a golden opportunity to simplify competitiveness and day-to-day management of small and medium-sized enterprises”, she added.

With an “open Europe” in mind, the Lithuanian Presidency will try to work on free-trade agreements with Japan, the USA and neighbouring Mediterranean countries inter alia. Vilnius also wants to strengthen its links with the Eastern Partnership countries. Many MEPs also stressed the importance of this partnership.

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso also highlighted the fight against tax evasion, health (with the tobacco directive), and the new rules on data protection. In addition, he wants the Lithuanian Presidency to take as a priority the issue of enhanced status for the European political parties before the European elections (our translation throughout). (CG/transl.fl)