Halfway through the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

24 October 2013, Last updated at, 08:40 EEST
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Since the start of the Presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 July, Lithuania has focused on the creation of a credible, growing and open Europe. Halfway through the Presidency, some of the most important results are listed below. The Presidency agenda has been very intensive from day one, dealing with both planned work and unexpected issues, such as the dialogue with the US on data protection, the crises in Syria and Egypt, and Russia’s steps on the TIR rules for road carriers. Much remains to be decided in coming two months among Member States and with other EU institutions on the most important issues for Europe.

Focus on a Credible Europe

Creating a Banking Union to Restore the Confidence of EU Citizens and International Financial Markets

As the first pillar of the Banking Union, the EU finance ministers have adopted the single supervisory mechanism which will start functioning in November 2014.

The negotiations on the single resolution mechanism are very intensive.

We are continuing negotiations with the European Parliament and the European Commission on the bank recovery and resolution directive that will help solve the problems of financial institutions and protect taxpayers’ money. We have also reopened negotiations on the deposit guarantee scheme which should ensure that depositors from the EU promptly get insurance benefits and that systems are adequately financed.

Restoring Confidence in the Euro

EU finance ministers have agreed to expand the euro zone which currently has 17 members: Latvia is to join on 1 January 2014.

EU Member States have agreed on legislation allowing better protection of the euro against counterfeiting. It will benefit EU citizens and businesses which now suffer at least EUR 500 million damage as a result of currency counterfeiting.

Implementing Obligations Related to a Credible EU Economic and Financial Policy

EU finance ministers have adopted country-specific recommendations, and the lessons learned from the 2013 European semester have been discussed at meetings of the Economic and Financial Affairs, Employment and Social Affairs Policy and General Affairs Councils.

Lithuania is about to start a new cycle of coordinating the member states’ economic policy, known as the European Semester, by organizing the presentation of the European Commission’s Annual Growth Survey in November at meetings of the Competitiveness, Economic and Financial Affairs, Employment and Social Policy, Health and Consumer Rights Protection and General Affairs Councils, and by preparing bilateral consultations with the EU Member States and the European Commission on this issue.

In two ministerial discussions the Lithuanian Presidency has focused on the importance of social policy for strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union.

Focus on a Growing Europe

Seeking to Ensure the Timely Start of Implementation of the Multiannual Financial Framework

Fulfilling the commitments of political agreement with the European Parliament, EU Member States have agreed on the additional expenditure for 2013: 1st tranche of EUR 7.3 bill was agreed in July, another tranche of EUR 3.9 bill agreed at the level of Permanent Representatives on 14 October.

The Council has reached an agreement on the EU annual budget for 2014. Negotiations with the European Parliament and European Commission are currently taking place.

An agreement on the financing of many of the individual EU programmes for 2014–2020 has been reached:

  • Over EUR 6.396 billion will be allocated to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, on which the Lithuanian Presidency reached the general approach in the Council in July. It has been planned to finalize the negotiation with the European Parliament by the end of 2013.
  • Horizon 2020 programme promoting investment in research and innovation has been approved.
  • After the Member States agreed on the Union Civil Protection Mechanism for 2014-2020, financing of the ongoing civil protection have been ensured.
  • EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation has been confirmed.
  • Creative Europe programme has been confirmed, and from 2014 it will include the programmes Culture, Media and Media Mundus.
  • Connecting Europe Facility European infrastructure network measure has been approved, which will help create a single EU market in the areas of energy, transport and telecommunications.
  • Life programme has been approved, promoting the effective protection of the environment and action on climate change.
  • Customs 2020 programme has been approved, ensuring the modernisation of the Customs Union by providing support for the development of IT systems.

Close Attention to EU Citizens’ Health Protection and Boosting Employment

EU ministers responsible for social protection and employment have adopted European Apprenticeships’ Declaration prepared by the Lithuanian Presidency aimed to improve the quality and supply of apprenticeship schemes so that young people across the EU can obtain the necessary working practice and skills.

Negotiations have started with the European Parliament after its plenary vote on the Tobacco Products Directive.

Creating Conditions for Sustainable Economic Growth

The main EU institutions have agreed on the Common Agricultural Policy reform.

EU member states have agreed on the public procurement reform, which would simplify public procurement procedures at the EU level.

To ensure the timely creation of the digital single market, Lithuania has contributed to preparations for the discussion in the European Council. The Lithuanian Presidency is keeping up efforts to start the negotiations on the e-Identification directive, which is crucial for e-business. The issue of cyber security was discussed during the informal meeting of ministers of the home affairs.

Agreement has been reached with the European Parliament on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, which enables certain Member States to facilitate opportunities for those unemployed due to globalisation.

During the informal meeting of ministers for energy, the Lithuanian Presidency initiated the discussion on the creation of the EU internal energy market, and reinforcing the external dimension of EU energy policy. It has managed to reach agreement with the European Parliament on informing about the investment in energy infrastructure projects, as one of the most important steps in expanding the common EU energy policy.  

Focus on an Open Europe

Strengthening Connections with Eastern Partners

EU members have agreed that after signing the Association and free trade agreement with Ukraine, most of it could be applied provisionally without waiting for full ratification. If Ukraine will have made sufficient reform progress, the agreement can be signed during the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius on 28–29 November.

The association negotiations with Georgia and Moldova have been concluded: much has been achieved in liberalising and facilitating the visa regime in Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The Lithuania Presidency encouraged the cooperation of the EU and its Eastern Partners by organizing the first meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers of the EU and six Eastern Partners countries. In the collective declaration by transport ministers of the Eastern Partnership countries, the recommendation for the European Commission to incorporate the regional Eastern Partnership transport network into the trans-European transport network (TEN–T) regulation was ratified.

Encouraging Open and Fair Trade with International Partners

The first round of negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US took place in Washington in July. About 150 negotiators in 24 negotiation working groups are negotiating over what would be the largest free trade area in the world.

EU trade ministers have issued a mandate for the negotiations with on the EU-China investment agreement, a first agreement of this kind which would allow the EU businesspeople to establish their businesses in China more easily and stimulate bilateral investment. It was also decided to include the investment protection provisions in the ongoing negotiations with the ASEAN countries.

EU ministers have agreed to open a new negotiation chapter in the EU accession negotiations with Turkey after a three-year break.

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