Attention concentrated on energy and the European Economy Recovery Plan

1. How does the future of the EU after the Irish ‘No’ look like?

 

The Lis­bon Treaty is a very impor­tant treaty to Lithua­nia. As the for­mer Lithuan­ian Prime Min­is­ter Ged­im­i­nas Kirk­i­las said – “by rat­i­fy­ing the Lis­bon Treaty Lithua­nia has spo­ken for a strong, sol­id and unit­ed EU”.[1] Nev­er­the­less, in Lithua­nia dur­ing the Decem­ber Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing, the atten­tion has been con­cen­trat­ed on the Euro­pean Coun­cil deci­sions con­cern­ing ener­gy and the Euro­pean Econ­o­my Recov­ery Plan. The Com­mit­tee on Euro­pean Affairs of the Lithuan­ian par­lia­ment called these two issues the most impor­tant to Lithuania.[2] There­fore the Euro­pean Coun­cil deci­sions con­cern­ing the fate of the Lis­bon Treaty did not attract much attention.

Little preparation for the European Parliament elections

Lithuan­ian par­lia­ment changed the order of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, there­fore the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in Lithua­nia will be held togeth­er with the sec­ond round of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. Accord­ing to the for­mer chair­man of the Lithuan­ian par­lia­ment, Česlo­vas Juršė­nas, this mea­sure has been tak­en in order to stim­u­late the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Lithua­ni­ans in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions and to save money.[3]

As the mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment from Lithua­nia Aloyzas Sakalas claims, in Lithua­nia there is still lit­tle prepa­ra­tion for the forth­com­ing Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions as every­body is still occu­pied with the prob­lems and affairs of the new­ly elect­ed nation­al parliament.[4] There are still lit­tle pub­lic talks upon who would be nom­i­nat­ed by the nation­al par­ties as can­di­dates for the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions. Only the Lithuan­ian con­ser­v­a­tives, the Home­land Union – Lithuan­ian Chris­t­ian Democrats,[5] which won the biggest num­ber of seats in the autumn elec­tions to the nation­al par­lia­ment made pub­lic remarks on this sub­ject. As the leader of the par­ty and the Lithuan­ian Prime Min­is­ter Andrius Kubil­ius declared, the most seri­ous can­di­dates of their par­ty would be the cur­rent mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment – Vytau­tas Lands­ber­gis and Laima Andrikienė.[6]

High participation in the European Parliament elections is not expected

A recent­ly con­duct­ed nation­al sur­vey demon­strates that the par­tic­i­pa­tion in the elec­tions to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Lithua­nia will not be high – 52 per­cent of inhab­i­tants express their inten­tion to go to vote dur­ing the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions. The res­o­lu­tion of Lithua­ni­ans to vote dur­ing these elec­tions is decreas­ing – this fig­ure is low­er by 20 per­cent com­pared to last year’s results.[7] Accord­ing to anoth­er sur­vey, while choos­ing which can­di­date to vote for, Lithua­ni­ans con­sid­er per­son­al­i­ty first, the candidate’s posi­tion on the Lithuan­ian issues sec­ond, and last­ly, his expe­ri­ence in Euro­pean matters.[8]

While the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions get at least some atten­tion, the same can­not be told about the for­ma­tion of the new Euro­pean Com­mis­sion – this issue does not prac­ti­cal­ly attract atten­tion in Lithuan­ian media. Nev­er­the­less, the cur­rent Euro­pean Com­mis­sion mem­ber from Lithua­nia, Dalia Gry­bauskaitė, is a favoured per­son­al­i­ty by the Lithuan­ian media and she often gets media cov­er­age. The issues of the appoint­ment of the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Com­mon For­eign and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy or pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios of the fur­ther EU inte­gra­tion also do not receive attention.

2. Transatlantic relations renewed after President Bush: top priorities

 

Transatlantic relations should be strengthened

There is a gen­er­al agree­ment in Lithua­nia that the transat­lantic rela­tions should be strength­ened. Dur­ing a meet­ing of the EU For­eign Affairs Min­is­ters, for­mer Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter, Petras Vaitiekū­nas, empha­sized that “for the EU it is use­ful to strength­en the coop­er­a­tion with the USA. It is espe­cial­ly impor­tant to devel­op a strate­gic dia­log and prac­ti­cal coop­er­a­tion in such fields as the com­mon eval­u­a­tion of the threats and cri­sis man­age­ment”. Accord­ing to the Min­is­ter, cri­sis in Geor­gia and depen­den­cy on the sin­gle sup­pli­er of the ener­gy resources, increase the impor­tance of the transat­lantic dialogue.[9]

The new Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment formed after the autumn elec­tions to the par­lia­ment, fur­ther sus­tains this posi­tion – in its pro­gramme the new gov­ern­ment set a goal to seek for strength­en­ing the rela­tions between the EU and the USA. Accord­ing to the gov­ern­ment pro­gramme, direct par­tic­i­pa­tion of the USA in West­ern, Cen­tral, East­ern Europe, and the Baltic region, is an impor­tant fac­tor for strength­en­ing both Lithuan­ian and Euro­pean security.[10] Speak­ing about the pri­or­i­ties of the Czech Pres­i­den­cy it is always empha­sized, that the Czech goal to strength­en the transat­lantic dia­logue com­plete­ly match­es the inter­ests of Lithuan­ian for­eign policy.

The priorities for strengthening EU-USA relations are not really clear

Nev­er­the­less, while speak­ing about strength­en­ing the EU-USA dia­logue, the pri­or­i­ties for strength­en­ing this dia­logue are not con­crete­ly named. Only mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment from Lithua­nia, Jus­tas Paleck­is, elab­o­rat­ed more on the con­text of the EU-USA rela­tion­ship. Accord­ing to him, the USA is no longer able to fight with any threat to the plan­et alone. The same can be said about the rest of the world – it is not able to do any­thing with­out the USA. The USA and the EU can deal with the glob­al chal­lenges only coop­er­at­ing with Chi­na, Rus­sia, India and the states of Latin Amer­i­ca and Africa. The fol­low­ing chal­lenges in the agen­da of the transat­lantic coop­er­a­tion are the most impor­tant: an effi­cient fight against the finan­cial cri­sis, mat­ters con­cern­ing ener­gy secu­ri­ty, reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the inter­na­tion­al organ­i­sa­tions, the reform of the Unit­ed Nations Orga­ni­za­tion, and final­ly, stop­ping cli­mate change. None of these chal­lenges can be dealt with with­out the efforts from both sides of the Atlantic, accord­ing to Jus­tas Paleckis.[11]

3. Financial crisis and challenges of global governance: the EU response

 

Attention is focused on the national level economic crisis

The issue of the finan­cial cri­sis is wide­ly dis­cussed in Lithua­nia, both by the politi­cians and the pub­lic. Nev­er­the­less, most of the dis­cus­sions con­cen­trate on the nation­al lev­el. The cen­tral issue in these dis­cus­sions is the response of the new Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment to the cri­sis while the role of the EU in respond­ing to the finan­cial cri­sis is not wide­ly deliberated.

There are only some remarks made pub­licly by the Lithuan­ian offi­cials con­cern­ing the EU response to the finan­cial cri­sis. In a press release pub­lished by the Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment, is it claimed that the Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment pos­i­tive­ly eval­u­ates the Euro­pean Coun­cil con­clu­sion to form a group to coor­di­nate the mem­ber states actions while deal­ing with the finan­cial crisis.[12]

European actions are congratulated, but individual measures should also be applied

Lithua­nia sup­ports the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion objec­tive to fos­ter the recov­ery of the Euro­pean econ­o­my and at the same time holds a posi­tion that it is impor­tant to coor­di­nate the actions tak­en to fight the finan­cial cri­sis among the coun­tries, but every state should take in to account its own sit­u­a­tion before choos­ing con­crete actions for fight­ing the finan­cial crisis.[13]

An aspect which attract­ed most of Lithuan­ian offi­cials’ atten­tion, speak­ing about the Euro­pean Eco­nom­ic Recov­ery Plan, was a propo­si­tion in the fol­low­ing two years to give an addi­tion­al five­bil­lion Euros from the EU bud­get to the pri­or­i­ty projects of elec­tric­i­ty inter­con­nec­tions and high speed inter­net, because it is expect­ed that Lithua­nia would get a share of these mon­ey. Lithuan­ian Pres­i­dent, Val­das Adamkus, claimed that “the adop­tion of the Euro­pean Eco­nom­ic Recov­ery Plan, which fore­sees to mobilise five bil­lion addi­tion­al Euros for the devel­op­ment of the ener­gy infra­struc­ture, would be impor­tant to Lithua­nia. This mon­ey would be used for the strate­gic Lithuan­ian projects – elec­tric­i­ty inter­con­nec­tions between Lithua­nia and Swe­den and between Lithuan­ian and Poland.[14] The biggest Lithuan­ian dai­ly, “Lietu­vos rytas”, wrote a sim­i­lar remark that “it is the elec­tric­i­ty con­nec­tions in the Baltic region which are treat­ed as the pri­or­i­ty of EU projects, there­fore it can be expect­ed that a part of this mon­ey would go to these countries”[15].

Expected shifts in the international power

Speak­ing about the issue of the shifts of inter­na­tion­al pow­er due to the finan­cial cri­sis, it should be not­ed that the Lithuan­ian media tends to pub­lish the arti­cles and the com­ments of the for­eign experts and there are lit­tle com­ments on the issue made by the Lithuan­ian offi­cials or polit­i­cal sci­en­tists in the media. Accord­ing to the mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment from Lithua­nia, Jus­tas Paleck­is nei­ther the USA, nor the rest of the world can fight sep­a­rate­ly with threats to the world. The only way for the USA and the EU to fight with these threats is to coop­er­ate with Chi­na, Rus­sia, India and the states of Latin Amer­i­ca and Africa.[16]

According to a Lithuanian political scientist, only two scenarios are possible due to the crisis

Speak­ing about the con­se­quences of the finan­cial cri­sis for the EU, an inter­est­ing remark has been made by one of the pop­u­lar Lithuan­ian polit­i­cal sci­en­tists, Kęs­tutis Grinius. Accord­ing to him, there are prac­ti­cal­ly only two ways for the EU gov­ern­ments to deal with the cri­sis. One way would be a total nation­al­i­sa­tion of all the econ­o­my, but Europe is not yet ready for that. Such actions could appear in the end of 2013. The oth­er way would be a total mon­eti­sa­tion of finan­cial assets – any finan­cial assets should be bought from the banks, cor­po­ra­tions and inhab­i­tants for the cash accord­ing to their par value.[17]

 

 

 

[1] Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment: G. Kirk­i­las: Lietu­va nori stiprios, sol­i­dar­ios ir vienin­gos Euro­pos Sąjun­gos (G. Kirk­i­las: “Lithua­nia wants a strong, sol­idary and unit­ed Europe”), press release, 22 May 2008, avail­able at: http://www.lrvk.lt/main.php?id=aktualijos_su_video/p.php&n=6237 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[2] Com­mit­tee on Euro­pean Affairs of the Lithuan­ian par­lia­ment: Euro­pos reikalų komite­tas pri­tarė Lietu­vos Respub­likos pozi­ci­joms vyk­stant į Euro­pos Vadovų Tary­bos posėdį (Com­mit­tee on Euro­pean Affairs has approved the Lithuan­ian posi­tion for the Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing), press release, 8 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter/w5_show?p_r=4463&p_k=1&p_d=81730 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[3] Bernar­di­nai (news por­tal): Euro­pos Par­la­men­to rinki­mai vyks birže­lio 7d. (Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions will be held on the 7th of May), 2 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.bernardinai.lt/index.php?url=articles%2F88444 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[4] Lietu­vos socialdemokratų par­ti­ja (Lithuan­ian Socialde­mo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty): Aloyzas Sakalas. Lietu­vo­je par­ti­jos dar nesiren­gia Euro­pos Par­la­men­to rinki­mams (Aloyzas Sakalas. Lithuan­ian par­ties still do not pre­pare for the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions), 24 Novem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.lsdp.lt/lt/index.php/straipsniai-ir-komentarai/interview/90-interviu/1790-aloyzas-sakalas-lietuvoje-partijos-dar-nesirengia-europos-parlamento-rinkimams (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[5] Tėvynės Sąjun­ga – Lietu­vos krikščionys demokratai.
[6] See: Kubil­i­aus favoritai rinkimu­ose – D. Gry­bauskaitė ir dabar­tini­ai europar­la­men­tarai (Favourites of Kubil­ius for the elec­tions – D. Gry­bauskaitė and the cur­rent Euro­pean Par­lia­ment mem­bers), 24 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ve.lt/?data=2009–01-24&rub=1065924810&id=1232824411 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[7] See: Euro­pos Par­la­men­to rinkimu­ose keti­na bal­suoti pusė Lietu­vos gyven­to­jų (Half of Lithuan­ian inhab­i­tants intend to vote dur­ing Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions), 7 Octo­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.zebra.lt/lt/aktualijos/lietuvoje/Europos-Parlamento-rinkimuose-ketina-balsuoti-puse-Lietuvos-gyventoju-2008–10-07.html (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[8] See: Euro­pos Par­la­men­to rinki­mai ateina į Lietu­vą antrą kartą (Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions come to Lithua­nia for the sec­ond time), 19 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.paleckis.lt/Default.aspx?Lang=LT&Element=ViewArticle&TopicID=6&ArticleID=3013 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[9] Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­istry: Lietu­vos užsienio reikalų min­is­tras: Euro­pos Sąjun­ga turi stiprinti ben­dradar­biav­imą su JAV (Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter: the EU has to strength­en the coop­er­a­tion with the USA), press release, 5 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?-1151384726 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[10] See: Vyr­i­ausy­bės pro­gra­ma: užsienio poli­tiko­je siek­ti ES sol­i­daru­mo, part­nerys­tės su JAV, geros kaimynys­tės su Rusi­ja (The pro­gramme of the gov­ern­ment: to seek for the EU sol­i­dar­i­ty, part­ner­ship with the USA and good neigh­bour­hood with Rus­sia in for­eign pol­i­cy), 4 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.euro.lt/lt/naujienos/apie-lietuvos-naryste-europos-sajungoje/naujienos/4775/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[11] Bernar­di­nai (news por­tal): Jus­tas Paleck­is. Nau­ja­sis JAV prezi­den­tas gręži­asi į Europą ir pasaulį (Jus­tas Paleck­is. the new pres­i­dent of the USA looks back to Europe and the world), 9 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.bernardinai.lt/index.php?url=articles/88743 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[12] Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment: Lietu­va išsakys savo pozi­ci­ją finan­sų krizės ir kli­ma­to kaitos klausi­mais (Lithuan­ian will deliv­er its posi­tion on the finan­cial cri­sis and cli­mate change), press release, 29 Octo­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.lrvk.lt/main.php?id=aktualijos_su_video/p.php&n=6753 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[13] Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment: Pre­m­jeras A. Kubil­ius pris­tatys Lietu­vos pozi­ci­jas Euro­pos Vadovų Tary­bo­je (Prime Min­is­ter A. Kubil­ius will present the Lithuan­ian posi­tions in a Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing), press release, 11 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.lrvk.lt/main.php?id=aktualijos_su_video/p.php&n=6912 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[14] Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment: Prezi­den­tas aptarė Lietu­vos pozi­ci­ją Euro­pos vadovų tary­bos susi­tikime Briuse­ly­je (Pres­i­dent has dis­cussed Lithuan­ian posi­tion for the Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing in Brus­sels), press release, Decem­ber 9 2008, avail­able at: http://www.president.lt/lt/news.full/9947 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[15] Lietu­vos rytas (news­pa­per): Dery­bos Briuse­ly­je – be pralaimėjusių (Nego­ti­a­tions in Brus­sels – with­out the loosers), 13 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?-2146360448 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[16] Bernar­di­nai (news por­tal): Jus­tas Paleck­is. Nau­ja­sis JAV prezi­den­tas gręži­asi į Europą ir pasaulį (Jus­tas Paleck­is. the new pres­i­dent of the USA looks back to Europe and the world), 9 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.bernardinai.lt/index.php?url=articles/88743 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[17] See: Kęs­tutis Grinius.JAV krizės pasek­mės ES:kitų vari­antų prak­tiškai nėra, išskyrus kar­inį komu­nizmą arba fašistinę dik­tatūrą (Con­se­quences of the USA cri­sis to the EU: there are prac­ti­cal­ly no oth­er sce­nar­ios except for the mil­i­tary com­mu­nism or fas­cist dic­ta­tor­ship), 15 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.vartotojulyga.lt/lt/news/detail.php?ID=20050 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).