Dalia Grybauskaitė officially launched Lithuania's EU Presidency in Strasbourg
- At a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, President Dalia Grybauskaitė outlined Lithuania's EU Presidency priorities and key tasks and answered questions from members of the parliament. This is an official working start of Lithuania's six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
According to the President, the Lithuanian Presidency agenda is ambitious and very important for all European citizens. Over the next six months, Lithuania will have to negotiate more than 300 EU legislative acts that are critical to promoting the EU's long-term economic growth, reducing youth unemployment and energy prices, and ensuring more secure neighborhood.
"After suffering five years of economic hardship, people are justifiably impatient for results. Which leave us with a lot of decisions to take in a short period of time and new opportunities to open up for our citizens. To this end, strong political will and coordinated action by all - EU institutions and national governments - are needed. Lithuania is ready to put all its effort into building a European consensus for a better, stronger, more united future together," the President said.
Speaking about the importance of urgent decisions, the President highlighted the unity of the Lithuanian people: "I represent a country who knows all too well the heavy price paid for making hard choices, but also one who understands the advantages that come from taking those difficult decisions when they need to be. The resolve shared by people right across my country now makes Lithuania's economy the fastest growing in Europe. I speak as representative of a country that draws its strength from unity," the President noted.
The President underlined the importance of reaching agreement among the EU member states in order the funds earmarked in the EU budget could get to the EU member states and the most problematic areas as soon as possible - at the beginning of 2014. After reaching political agreement on the EU's multiannual budget, Lithuania will work to coordinate around 70 documents crucial for implementation of the budget.
According to the President, the single market is major economic success of the European Union. Therefore it is necessary to effectively exploit its potential and deliver well-functioning internal markets in energy, services and digital economy.
As the President pointed out, an integrated EU internal energy market alone could substantially reduce prices for energy resources and improve the EU's competitiveness. It is estimated that if the EU becomes a fully integrated market in 2015, it could save as much as 35 billion euros a year in electricity costs.
"Today, our citizens and businesses pay far too much for their energy. That makes our economy less competitive, and leaves consumers with less purchasing power. The lack of an internal market in energy opens up an energy security vacuum. We agreed that the internal energy market must be completed by 2014, and that no EU member state should remain isolated from European gas and electricity networks after 2015," the President emphasized speaking about the energy agenda.
On November 4 - 5, Vilnius will host the conference on completing the EU internal energy market where decisions will be made on key European energy projects.
The President also underscored the significance of the digitization the EU economy. Two events will be dedicated to the digital market issues and IT development during Lithuanian EU Presidency - the European Council summit in October and the European research and innovation event (ICT 2013) to be held in early November in Vilnius.
Open Europe is Lithuania's third priority. During Lithuanian's EU Presidency talks on free trade agreements will be held with the Unites States and Japan, also seeking closer rapprochement between the EU and its Eastern partners. According to the President, those partners who have made their European choice must know that they too are welcome, when they are ready, to join our family. There are high expectations that the Vilnius Summit in November will see the signing of an association agreement with Ukraine as well as the conclusion of negotiations and initialing of relevant agreements with Moldova, Georgia and Armenia.