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Lithuanian ministers and members of the European Parliament are looking to increase the EU competitiveness

Date

2013 07 17

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The priorities of Lithuania’s presidency of the Council of the European Union encompassing the fields of energy, digital agenda, investment in scientific research and technological advancement as well as the efforts to increase the effectiveness of the single market and the EU’s competitiveness were the main topics during the meetings of the country’s ministers and representatives of the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) who visited Vilnius on 15–17 July.

During the meeting with the Minister of Energy Jaroslavas Neverovičius, the ITRE representatives expressed interest in Lithuania’s position regarding the draft directive on indirect land use change (ILUC).

“Ireland has made considerable progress in this field and during the presidency we will seek accord with the EP to complete this dossier. In order to reach an agreement we need to harmonize the main goals – to encourage the production of innovative biofuel to decrease the harmful side effects of its production process on the environment and humans and to maintain clear investment perspectives as well as the attainability of the EU’s renewable energy sources goals,” the Minister said. When discussing the Climate and Energy Policy strategy to 2030, Neverovičius stressed that it would be necessary to evaluate the way we should continue working towards a competitive, stable, sustainable, and safe economy and energy system.

The MEPs discussed the issues of energy also with Minister of Foreign Affairs Rolandas Kriščiūnas, who emphasized that in order to complete the internal energy market by 2014 and eliminate energy islands by 2015, it was high time to give proper attention to the implementation of these goals. Another topic, the strengthening of the EU’s external energy policy, is inseparable from the internal energy market and Lithuania plans to renew the Council’s conclusions regarding this matter.

Minister of Economy Evaldas Gustas assured the ITRE members that Lithuania, presiding within the areas of small and medium-sized enterprises, innovations, and the policy of industry, will focus on the implementation of a competitive, integrated, and innovation-based industrial policy of the EU.

“We will follow up on the progress and changes required to strengthen the competitiveness of the EU’s industry,” he said. According to the Minister, the Competitiveness Council will aim at adopting the Council’s conclusions regarding a growth-stimulating EU industry policy. Thus Lithuania’s Presidency will contribute to the discussion regarding the industry policy during the European Council Summit scheduled for February 2014.

“Our common goal at the EU and the national level is to make sure that investment into scientific research increases and is effective – addresses problems that are important to the public and improves competitiveness,” said Minister of Education and Science Dainius Pavalkis. Both parties emphasized that the EU’s new program for research and innovation Horizon 2020 was a very important tool to stimulate the EU’s economic growth by supporting innovative companies and top scientists. Formally, this research and innovation programme that would strengthen the EU’s competitiveness will have to be approved by the EP in autumn.

During the Presidency, Lithuania will cooperate with this committee in discussing the EC’s proposal regarding the Regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market.

“Our objective is to build a foundation for safe and trustworthy electronic transactions. It’s a priority document that will provide the possibilities of creating a digital single market in Europe because it will help increase trust in international digital transactions and facilitate communication via electronic means for citizens, business representatives, and governmental institutions,” said Minister of Transport and Communications Rimantas Sinkevičius. According to him, such an agreement on the EU level would stimulate the development of the e-business and services market.

Besides the Lithuanian ministers, the MEPs also met with President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Members of the Seimas. The ITRE is responsible for the matters regarding scientific research, energy, telecommunications, progress of the Internet and technology. In addition, the Committee’s members coordinate the European Space Policy and cooperate with the European Space Agency. In the ITRE there are two Lithuanian MEPs: Zigmantas Balčytis and Algirdas Saudargas. This visit to Lithuania is a traditional visit of MEPs to a presiding country in order to find out its priorities and programme.