Interparliamentary Conference will provide new opportunities for strengthening cooperation among institutions responsible for implementing economic and financial policies

17 October 2013, Last updated at, 16:04 EET
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author: O. Posaškova

On 16 October, the fifth event of the parliamentary dimension of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) – Interparliamentary Conference on Economic and Financial Governance of the European Union – began at the Seimas lasting for two days.

At the opening session of the Interparliamentary Conference co-chaired by Bronius Bradauskas, Chair of the Committee on Budget and Finance, and Remigijus Žemaitaitis, Chair of the Committee on Economics, the welcome address was given by Loreta Graužinienė, Speaker of the Seimas, and the welcome letter of Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania, was read out.

Loreta Graužinienė stated that the Conference would provide new opportunities for strengthening cooperation between national Parliaments and the European Parliament as well as among other EU institutions responsible for implementing economic and financial policies in the EU. “As you know, sometimes European citizens and their directly elected representatives feel distanced from decision-making in Brussels and Strasbourg. We who have gathered today for the session of the newly established Interparliamentary Conference have an excellent opportunity to fill in this gap,” said Mrs Graužinienė.

The Speaker of the Seimas stated that the Lithuanian Presidency had decided well before the start of its Presidency that it would aim to conclude the Presidency events held at the Seimas with specific results and detailed conclusions at this difficult post-crisis period. “We will aim at added value. I believe that from now on parliamentary meetings should end with specific decisions. Not only politicians but also our electorate – European citizens – have the right to know about these decisions,” said Mrs Graužinienė.

In her welcome letter to the Conference, Dalia Grybauskaitė highlighted that consistent modification of laws was necessary for ensuring the European financial stability. The Lithuanian President stated that financial discipline, tax collection and transparent business could only be guaranteed when taxes were calculated and used effectively without favouring any privileged groups.

Remigijus Žemaitaitis pointed out that the recent economic crisis had clearly demonstrated the imperative need to strengthen the coordination of economic policy among the Member States. This view was also supported by Othmar Karas, Vice-President of the European Parliament. He believed that it was important for national Parliaments and the European Parliament to exchange information and opinions.

In his presentation on the challenge of restoring growth and competitiveness in Europe, Algirdas Butkevičius, Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, stressed the need for the Member States to overcome the challenge of structural reforms to achieve an efficient and dynamic boost to economic growth and competitiveness in Europe. In his view, special attention should be given to integration and strengthening of the internal market of the European Union and improvement of transport and energy infrastructure. The Head of the Government stated that it was also important to ensure full functioning of the Internal Energy Market as of 2014 and that no Member State was isolated from the European gas and electricity networks beyond 2015.

As regards funding and innovation policies, the Prime Minister stressed that the Member States should do more to promote alternative sources of funding and reduce the dependence of small and medium-sized enterprises on traditional sources of funding through bank loans. They should also speed up major structural reforms of national research and innovation systems. “Well-functioning internal market of the European Union is a prerequisite for the successful industrial restructuring in Europe, small and medium-sized enterprises in particular; it is, therefore, necessary to better exploit the potential of the internal market of the European Union,” said Algirdas Butkevičius.

During the video conference, Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for economic and monetary affairs and the euro, gave a presentation on the genuine Economic and Monetary Union. Outlining the economic situation in Europe, the Vice-President of the European Commission confirmed that recently the economic situation had been improving and the economic growth had been sustainable but some problems persisted.

Olli Rehn was of the opinion that ensuring the Economic and Monetary Union was one of the biggest challenges for the EU at that time. He said that sustainable growth, first and foremost, was brought about by the capacity to adapt to the current conditions, real economy, available financing for investment, credit provision and reliable legal framework for public funding.

 

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