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Eastern Partnership and internal energy market: top priorities of Lithuanian EU Presidency

15 Jul 2013 - 10:40

Report of  TEPSA Lithuanian EU pre-presidency conference, Vilnius 4 July


Introducing the agenda

“The situation in the EU is critical”, said Dalia Grybauskaité, President of Lithuania, when opening the TEPSA pre-presidency conference introducing the 6 months EU presidency programme ‘For a credible, growing and open Europe’ ( This conference took place last week on 4 July. The enthusiasm of a small member state holding the EU Presidency for the first time was reflected in the high level representation of government ministers in the conference.

Mrs. Grybauskaité underlined that the Presidency will have to deal with financial, economic and social challenges in pursuance of a Credible Europe. Deeper integration of the internal market, the digital agenda and energy policy, along with greater investments in technology and research will lead to a Growing Europe. In the context of an Open Europe, fostering the Eastern Partnership is a priority because of the Summit to be held in Vilnius in November this year. According to the President of Lithuania this Summit can be considered a success when an Association Agreement, including the first deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA),  can be signed between the EU and Ukraine, and when negotiations with Georgia and Moldova on DCFTA will be opened.

Lithuanian’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Linas Linkevičius, further highlighted the presidency objectives, plus the need to finalize all legislative work because of the upcoming EP elections and to conclude the open endings of the Multiannual Financial Framework. Thereafter he expressed his gratitude to the Irish Presidency for all the progress it had made in the economic and financial field and he emphasized that Lithuania would continue the rolling agenda as agreed upon by the trio presidency (Ireland, Lithuania and Greece). One of the biggest challenges of the EU in the economic field is how to link austerity measures with economic growth and more employment. “Solidarity in Europe is necessary”.


Eastern Partnership

The mere fact that it is on the agenda of the European Council is a success in itself and of the utmost importance, according to  Lithuanian’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. This does not happen too often. Summits most of the time deal with the crisis in Syria or with developments in Egypt, but less with Europe. He also stated that Lithuania intends to make the slogan ‘more for more’ reality. Moldova has made good progress with reforms and is successful in visa liberalization, so give them credit for this and they will attempt to achieve more. The best result,  according to Linas Linkevičius, would indeed be an agreement with Ukraine. “It is doable”. Although there are political problems, amongst others concerns about the illness of Yulia Tymochenko,  who is in prison. It is up to Ukraine to show what they want. He also believes that Georgia could accomplish an agreement. Perhaps a dialogue could be started between Azerbaijan and the EU. As far as Belarus is concerned, Lithuania will  do its utmost to bring them closer.



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Energy policy

Another important topic to focus on is energy policy. For the Baltic states,  which are highly dependent on energy imports, an increase in internal and external European cooperation in the field of energy is key. At this moment an internal market for energy is lacking. The three Baltic countries have built together a new plant, the LNG terminal, as a good example of regional cooperation. Mr. Jaroslavas Neverovičius, Minister of Energy, stated that the common objective of the EU is to have a sustainable, competitive and secure energy policy. All countries agree on that. However, the energy market is still very much in the hands of national member states, despite the solidarity clause for energy in the Lisbon Treaty. Lithuania intends to do more. It is essential for the development of the internal market to stimulate the level playing field and of course also to ensure energy security (important for Baltics). Mr. Neverovičius  added that the external dimension of energy policy could be strengthened, vis-à-vis Russia and other energy suppliers.


Needless to say that the Lithuanian Presidency faces a difficult task the coming months. Luckily the rotating EU Presidency still allows individual countries to focus on specific topics, which are of national interest. Lithuania grabs this opportunity to increase the visibility of the country, indeed the Baltic region, within and outside the EU, by prioritizing the Eastern Partnership and energy policy.