From the Editor

Ten years ago, Lithuania, along with nine other countries, joined the European Union. This tenth anniversary of Lithuania’s membership of the EU, which coincided with its tenth anniversary of being a NATO member, was celebrated in Vilnius with many formal and informal events.

 During its ten years of EU membership Lithuania has become much stronger: economically, politically and in a civic sense. Since the beginning of its EU membership, Lithuania has received about 36 billion litas (10.5 billion euro) of financial support from the EU. This flow of financial support has helped to increase the country’s economic growth: before membership, Lithuania’s GDP was only 46% of the EU average, but by 2011 it had reached 62% and it is still increasing. About 80% of FDI in Lithuania comes from EU member states. As calculated, during just the first three years of EU membership Lithuania’s GDP increased by 3%, just because of the membership benefits.

Lithuania’s integration into EU financial markets is not over: its next target is the Eurozone. In June 2014 the European Commission and the European Central Bank in their convergence reports concluded that Lithuania complies with the Maastricht criteria and is ready to join the Eurozone as of 1 January 2015.

 All these facts confirm that Lithuania has become a fully-fledged member of the EU. The presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2013 was a symbolic endorsement of Lithuania’s achievements.

 The key outputs of the Lithuanian EU presidency include a timely deal on the EU budget for 2014, progress in building the banking union, and integrating the EU’s internal energy market. During the presidency, agreement was also reached on the list of strategic energy projects, including six Lithuanian projects. Free-trade talks were concluded with Canada and begun with the USA. Mandate was received to negotiate investment protection with China.

 An open EU was one of the top priorities of the Lithuanian presidency. The November Summit in Vilnius triggered historic changes in Eastern Partnership countries: EU association agreements were begun with Moldova and Georgia, and other important agreements were signed during the summit. The Vilnius Summit also led to historic changes in Ukraine, where people have clearly demonstrated their choice of a democratic future based on European values.

 ‘I am proud that our country has shown it, too, can carry out the tasks of an EU presidency as well as any other member state that has been part of the European Union for many years. Lithuania’s EU presidency has been exceptional – we have had to cope with twice the usual workload and also withstand external pressures.I am delighted that we have worked with a sense of purpose, successfully resisting attempts to break our stride, and have achieved more that we were required to do’, President of Lithuania Dalia GrybauskaitÄ— said, evaluating the job that has been done.

 It is not surprising that this issue of the Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review is a special dedication to the tenth anniversary of Lithuania’s EU membership and the Lithuanian presidency of the Council of the EU.

 We begin our issue with an evaluation of Lithuania’s presidency of the Council of the EU. In the article A Feather in its Cap? The Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU Mindaugas Jurkynas and Justina Daukšaitė provide elaborated theoretical evaluation guidelines for the presidency by employing a modified contingency management theory. The study modifies contingency management theory by selecting a set of the most appropriate criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of the presidency at the Council of the EU. The demand side unveiled that Lithuania’s presidency was expected to execute the functions of political leadership (when necessary) as organiser and mediator. The analysis of the operationalized supply side (readiness for presidency, cooperation with the General Secretariat, administrative capacity, positions of main policy makers, relations with other EU institutions, presidency experience, importance of the issues and foreign-policy orientation) enabled an evaluation of the effectiveness of Lithuania’s presidency. The study revealed a well-executed Lithuanian presidency of the Council of the EU and came up with theoretical and empirical recommendations.

 Bruno Vandecasteele in his article Influence of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council on the EU’s Relations with the Eastern Partnership attempts to analyse the efforts of the Lithuanian presidency to maintain and strengthen EU Eastern Partnership relations, and analyses the extent to which Lithuania has been influential in this regard. In doing so, the article assesses three interlinked indicators: (i) Lithuania’s achievement of goals, (ii) the extent to which the achievement of goals can be ascribed to the presidency, and (iii) the political relevance of the Eastern Partnership-related developments in 2013. The article concludes that the presidency is mostly not influential in existing frameworks for cooperation, but does exert influence in establishing and consolidating cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partnership in specific policy areas, as well as in providing political backing to push certain dossiers forward. As Vandecasteele emphasises, the relatively small number of cases in which Lithuania exerted influence, despite its strong prioritisation and efforts, indicates that the presidency has limited opportunities to steer EaP policies. The presidency can play its most prominent role in areas of cooperation that are not yet well-developed: the Lithuanian Presidency managed to establish or deepen sectorial cooperation with EaP countries through careful selection of priorities and resources, alliances with the EU institutions and linkages to existing policy frameworks.

 Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Linas Kojala and Vytautas Keršanskas provide a hypothesis that the Eastern Partnership Programme lacks effectiveness. In their article The Future of the EU’s Eastern Partnership: Russia as an Informal Veto Player the authors claim that five years of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) have produced only limited progress in EaP countries and the main incentive for transformation – the membership perspective – is still not evident. Furthermore, some EU countries still search for a form of ‘engagement’ with Russia, while others are bargaining for a more strict policy of ‘containment’. Hence, Russia is moving towards becoming an informal ‘veto’ player in EU-EaP relations, so that it can control the geopolitical path of the countries in the ‘shared neighbourhood’. The article discusses a thesis that Russian intentions in the post-Soviet space are best described as ‘reordering the order’ of European security architecture and have unfolded in no uncertain manner during the crisis in Ukraine. The Eastern partners stand in the crossfire of this geopolitical rivalry between two rivalry integration spaces: the European Union and the newly formed Eurasian Union. However, it is worth asking whether both of these integration spaces are playing in this geopolitical game.

 Colleagues from Estonia, Viljar Veebel, Liina Kulu and Annika Tartes continue the topic of the effectiveness of EU Neighbourhood Policy (ENF) in the article Conceptual Factors behind the Low Performance of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The study analyses whether, and to what extent, the failure of the ENF was caused by the controversies rooted in differing expectations, interests and goals of EU member states, or by the controversial conceptual approach that underlies the policy. Issues related to the upcoming reforms of the ENP are also of particular importance for the Baltic countries, both in supporting political and economic reforms in former Soviet Union Republics (including Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova) and determining the direction of EU relations with Russia.

 The final article, by Viktor Pavlenko, Sergey Sveshnikov and Victor Bocharnikov, entitled An Analysis of Romania’s Foreign Policy Relations in the Context of Ukraine’s European Integration provides a specific look at Romania’s foreign policy from the Ukranian perspective. The article demonstrates that deteriorated relations with Russia is not the only problem for Ukraine on its journey toward the EU. The authors remind us that the success of the agreement on association with EU relies upon the friendly relations of Ukraine with all EU member states. However, among all European states, Ukraine’s relations with Romania are the most complex and contradictory. The article attempts to designate direction for making mutually advantageous decisions on existing contradictions, based on research into Ukraine’s relations with Romania and considering Romania’s relations with other states.

 In our Opinion section, Ambassador of Italy to Lithuania Stefano Taliani de Marchio presents an excerpt from the essay The high road: Europe and Italy’s Roles in the World which explores and analyses the political experience of the President of the Republic of Italy, H.E. Giorgio Napolitano, one of the leading actors on the Italian, European and international stage. The excerpt presents Giorgio Napolitano’s introduction to his intense conversation with the Italian journalist and opinion leader Federico Rampini, in which President Giorgio Napolitano describes his point of view on the main European and international issues.


Editor in Chief
Tomas Janeliūnas

 

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International Forum

CHALLENGES AND OPTIONS FOR THE BALTIC SEA REGION
December 12, 2008,
Vilnius

Selected presentations:

Dr. Mindaugas Jurkynas, Vilnius University, Lithuania

Dr. Marko Lehti, University of Turku, Finland

Dr. Arūnas Molis, Baltic Defence College

Dr. Toms Rostoks, University of Latvia, Latvia

Dr. Kazimierz Musia?, University of Gdansk, Poland




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