Lithuania hands over the responsibility for critical EU decisions to Greece

11 December 2013, Last updated at, 14:21 EEST
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author: R. Dačkus

Wednesday, December 11, Athens - Today, President Dalia Grybauskaitė is symbolically handing over the helm of the Council of the European Union to Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Greece will officially start presiding over the EU Council on 1 January 2014.

The visit in Athens included discussion on the work performed during Lithuania's EU Presidency, the importance of continuity in promoting Europe's economic growth, fighting unemployment and ensuring financial stability, as well as priorities of the Greek presidency.

 

"Even under intense external pressure and effects of the crisis, Lithuania has successfully performed the responsible tasks entrusted to it. During our EU Presidency, significant progress has been made in a wide range of important areas laying a solid foundation for the well-being of European citizens. Today we are handing over to Greece the baton of EU presidency and the responsibility for decisions critical to Europe. We wish smooth and fruitful presidency and hope that despite its difficult economic situation Greece will contribute to building a more secure and more stable Europe," the President said.

 

Key outputs of the Lithuanian EU Presidency, she noted, include an agreement with the European Parliament on the EU budget for 2014-2020, progress in creating the banking union, and the Vilnius Summit that launched a new phase of the EU cooperation with Eastern Partnership countries.

 

Important developments also occurred in terms of strengthening the EU energy and digital markets, reducing youth unemployment, advancing innovation and technological progress in business, and opening free trade talks with the United States of America.

 

According to the President, political agreement on the EU's multiannual financial framework reached under Lithuanian EU Presidency will allow using, from the very beginning of the next year, the European support for the purposes of bringing down youth unemployment, stimulating economy and implementing strategic energy projects. The funds are needed to ensure the competitiveness of the European Union.

 

Taking stock of the results of the Vilnius Summit the President underlined a substantial breakthrough in the Eastern Partnership programme - EU association agreements were initialed with Moldova and Georgia and progress was made in the area of visa liberalization. Next year will see the introduction of a visa-free regime for Moldova and the signing of a visa facilitation agreement with Azerbaijan. The Vilnius Summit has also triggered historic changes in Ukraine.

 

The Greek EU Presidency is expected to move forward with implementing the EU enlargement strategy in the Western Balkans region, in particular to advance negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia. Greater focus is planned to be placed on border protection and migration problems.

 

Lithuania actively sought the completion of an integrated EU internal energy market. A budget line for strategic interconnection projects was for the first time provided in the EU seven-year financial framework and a list of top priority EU projects was adopted. 15 projects from the Baltic States are placed on the list, including six Lithuanian projects.

 

Energy security and diversified energy supplies are in the common interest of Lithuania and Greece. During the meetings, views were exchanged on the experience of the two countries in an effort to ensure alternative gas supplies and implement the liquefied natural gas terminal projects. The Klaipėda terminal, currently under construction, will be launched at the end of next year. Such terminal is already operating in Greece. Both countries also strive that nuclear power stations being developed in the EU neighborhood meet the highest security standards.

 

Meaningful progress has been made during Lithuania's EU Presidency towards securing financial stability in the European Union. A supervisory mechanism for banks aimed at preventing debt crises was agreed, and the European Council this month is expected to reach political agreement on general provisions of the resolution mechanism which will help address bank insolvency problems. Once in place, an effectively functioning banking union will ensure the responsible fiscal policy, prevent financial crises in the future, and provide measures to aid countries that experience debt problems.

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The 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius

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