Unemployment, nuclear energy, and the Baltic Sea Strategy

Unemployment has grown drastically

Lithua­nia has been deeply influ­enced by the cur­rent finan­cial cri­sis. One of the most prob­lem­at­ic con­se­quences of the cri­sis is a sig­nif­i­cant increase in the lev­el of unem­ploy­ment. Sev­er­al years ago, Lithua­nia did not face the prob­lem of unem­ploy­ment, as its lev­el was very low, but accord­ing to the lat­est data pro­vid­ed by the Lithuan­ian Office of Sta­tis­tics, the lev­el of unem­ploy­ment was as high as 13.7 per­cent at the end of 2009.11Data of Lithuan­ian Office of Sta­tis­tics, Lithuan­ian Labour Exchange and Euro­stat pro­vide quite sim­i­lar data. The new report by the Lithuan­ian Sta­tis­tics Office on the lev­el of unem­ploy­ment in the first quar­ter of 2010 will be pub­lished on 25 May 2010. This means that Lithua­nia has the third high­est unem­ploy­ment lev­el in the EU after Spain and Latvia. In this con­text, it is becom­ing hard­er for inex­pe­ri­enced and young peo­ple to find jobs and, in 2009, the unem­ploy­ment lev­el among the youth had reached 29.3 per­cent.22Ver­s­lo žin­ios: Unem­ploy­ment dur­ing the last year has grown by almost 2.5 times (Nedar­bas per­nai išau­go beveik pus­trečio kar­to), 23 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://vz.lt/2/straipsnis/2010/02/23/Nedarbas_pernai_isaugo_beveik_pustrecio_karto2 (last access: 9 June 2010). The Bank of Lithua­nia esti­mates that the lev­el of unem­ploy­ment might reach up to 16.7 per­cent this year.33Ibid.

Closure of Ignalina nuclear power plant was not postponed

Imple­ment­ing the pro­vi­sions of the EU acces­sion treaty, Lithua­nia closed the sec­ond block of the Ignali­na nuclear pow­er plant at the end of 2009. Ignali­na was the major source of elec­tric­i­ty since 1997, pro­duc­ing more than 80 per­cent of all elec­tric­i­ty used in Lithua­nia. Lithuan­ian oblig­a­tions to close the pow­er plant encour­aged var­i­ous fuelled fears among Lithuan­ian soci­ety and politi­cians who urged not to close the pow­er plant and made attempts to pro­long its func­tion­ing. This also gave ground for abun­dant polit­i­cal spec­u­la­tion. How­ev­er, the EU had a strict posi­tion on the issue and the Ignali­na nuclear pow­er plant stopped pro­duc­ing elec­tric­i­ty on 31 Decem­ber 2009. In this con­text, EU ener­gy pol­i­cy on elec­tric­i­ty and gas inter­con­nec­tions with the rest of EU are of vital impor­tance to Lithua­nia.

Lithuania congratulates the adoption of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

Lithuan­ian offi­cials favoured the adop­tion of the EU Strat­e­gy for the Baltic Sea Region, as very impor­tant projects for Lithua­nia are includ­ed in this Strat­e­gy. For­mer Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter Vygau­das Usackas said that the Baltic Sea Strat­e­gy has a sig­nif­i­cant impor­tance.44For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter Vygau­das Usackas: EU Baltic sea strat­e­gy: new pos­si­bil­i­ties and chal­lenges (Tau­jėnų dvaras, Ukmergės raj), pre­sen­ta­tion, 13 Novem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?130737639 (last access: 9 June 2010). Impor­tant projects, such as elec­tric­i­ty and gas inter­con­nec­tions with oth­er EU mem­ber states, are includ­ed in the Strat­e­gy, which will help reduce Lithuan­ian ener­gy iso­la­tion, which is one of the most sen­si­tive issues to Lithua­nia. There­fore, it is expect­ed that the inclu­sion of these projects into the Strat­e­gy will fos­ter their imple­men­ta­tion.

    Footnotes

  • 1Data of Lithuan­ian Office of Sta­tis­tics, Lithuan­ian Labour Exchange and Euro­stat pro­vide quite sim­i­lar data. The new report by the Lithuan­ian Sta­tis­tics Office on the lev­el of unem­ploy­ment in the first quar­ter of 2010 will be pub­lished on 25 May 2010.
  • 2Ver­s­lo žin­ios: Unem­ploy­ment dur­ing the last year has grown by almost 2.5 times (Nedar­bas per­nai išau­go beveik pus­trečio kar­to), 23 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://vz.lt/2/straipsnis/2010/02/23/Nedarbas_pernai_isaugo_beveik_pustrecio_karto2 (last access: 9 June 2010).
  • 3Ibid.
  • 4For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter Vygau­das Usackas: EU Baltic sea strat­e­gy: new pos­si­bil­i­ties and chal­lenges (Tau­jėnų dvaras, Ukmergės raj), pre­sen­ta­tion, 13 Novem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?130737639 (last access: 9 June 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained there­in.