What Sort of the EU Does Lithuania Need?
I would like to present an analysis by Laurynas Kasčinūas: “What Sort of the EU Does Lithuania Need?” published in Veidas magazine on 2 of August. The author is arguing that Lithuania should fight for its right more vigorously, since not ‘one size for all’ is not always corresponds to the emerging Lithuania’s needs. Here we are:
’During the negotiations over EU membership, in Lithuania‘s political, economic, and even cultural life a stereotype was formed that the EU is a unique European invention that signifies peace and prosperity. During that time, idealistic speeches about common European values and Lithuania‘s return to the family of European nations were very popular.
This stage of somewhat primitive clichés is over. To paraphrase a famous public figure, “the referendum is over, and so is the romanticism.” The period of romanticism is gradually being replaced by a pragmatic view toward the EU. Lithuania had to grasp the rules of the new political game in the EU and to decide whether to swim downstream, accepting all political and economic norms of the EU or to create a Lithuanian vision of the EU. It looks like Lithuania prefers to conform, at least for now.
During its first three years in the EU, Lithuania distinguished itself as one of the most earnest adherents of the conformist policy. [passage omitted: Lithuania is transferring 99.5 percent of all EU directives into its legal norms]
First, Lithuania should decide whether the EU’s common template of social and economic policies fits its needs better than the possibility of creating a model of social and economic prosperity that is more in line with Lithuania‘s national particularity. Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, deputy director of the Center for Strategic Studies, says strict adherence to EU requirements most often raises Lithuanian companies’ expenditures and the prices of their goods and services.
Considering the fact that Lithuanian companies’ productivity is much smaller than the EU average and the fact that their technological input is much poorer, additional EU requirements may become a factor that limits the competitiveness of the Lithuanian national economy. Additional EU regulations are costlier for Lithuania than for richer EU countries, and they reduce Lithuania‘s chances of quickly reaching the level of prosperity seen in the older EU member states. These arguments should rebuff the euro federalists’ claims that closer EU integration is a tool for reducing economic and social differences throughout Europe.
One is inclined to conclude that, on the theoretical level, the growing competitiveness of the Lithuanian economy today cannot be compared to the growing competitiveness of the rich EU countries. Moreover, according to Vaičiunas, common social programs and taxes will fit Lithuania‘s needs only when the economic level in Lithuania becomes equal to the level found in the rich EU countries. Thus, for now, Lithuania should oppose proposals to harmonize economic and social systems in the EU countries, because competition between different systems would allow Lithuania to create an economic model that is more effective and better suits Lithuania‘s interests.
Does Lithuania Need Strong EU?
MP Egidijus Vareikis thinks Lithuania is very vulnerable to pressure from external powers. Thus, EU membership can provide Lithuania with an additional negotiating tool in its relations with Russia. For example, in negotiations with Russia over energy supply conditions. Moreover, the issues that dominate the current European political agenda in Lithuania – joining the Schengen zone, the eurozone, and attempts to create a common EU energy policy – can be solved only in a tightly integrated EU. Thus, Lithuania should be willing to transfer its sovereignty to the EU in certain areas in exchange for stability and security in relations with Russia.
On the other hand, the main condition for creating a strong EU is the EU countries’ consolidation, which most certainly should be implemented on the basis of the dominant political, economic, and social models within the EU. This means that in a strong EU, Lithuania would be forced to accept the political, economic, and social standards of certain EU countries. In other words, Lithuania would be forced to accept rules that m ay not always suit Lithuania‘s interests. The only way Lithuania can solve this integration dilemma is to increase its influence in the EU decision-making process, thus transferring national priorities to the EU agenda. In other words, a tightly integrated EU can be useful to Lithuania only if Lithuania‘s interests are also taken into consideration. Source: BBC Monitoring