On 11 December in Brussels, ministers of the European Union member states endorsed the programme of the Council of the European Union for the Irish, Lithuanian and Greek Presidencies. The so-called Trio will be responsible for the EU’s legislative process from 1 January 2013 to 30 June 2014.
“The main emphasis of the Trio programme is on the implementation of measures to restore confidence in the European Union economy, to foster economic growth and employment, to further deepen the Single Market, to ensure financial stability and to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union,” Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Vytautas Leškevičius said when presenting the 18-month programme at the General Affairs Council. According to the Vice-Minister, these initiatives are particularly important for the European Union and, therefore, for the Lithuanian people, economy and business.
“The agenda is ambitious, but implementable. This will require concerted efforts of all the member states, the European Commission, the European Parliament, as well as Lithuanian institutions,” Leškevičius noted.
At the meeting of European Affairs Ministers in Brussels, Leškevičius presented the programme together with Ireland’s Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore, Lucinda Creighton, Minister of State for European Affairs, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Dimitris Kourkoulas, Greek Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“The agenda consists of several hundred initiatives, many require meticulous work by all member states. It may sometimes be overshadowed by just a few most visible EU topics but the adopted legal acts will contribute to the prosperity of the EU’s population of over 500 million,” Lithuanian Vice-Minister said.
According to Leškevičius, the Trio programme also reflects areas of particular attention by the forthcoming Lithuanian EU Presidency: energy, Eastern neighbourhood, EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and effective protection of external borders.
“It is particularly important that the programme highlights such issues relevant for Lithuania as the completion of the EU internal energy market, the elimination of ‘energy islands’, the development of infrastructure in the transport and energy sectors, as well as better coordinated external dimension of the EU energy policy,” Leškevičius said.
The Vice-Minister stressed that the programme placed great emphasis on the Eastern partners in the run-up to the next year’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on 28–29 November 2013, and aimed at achieving progress in negotiating and concluding deep and comprehensive free trade agreements with Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia.
The programme also stresses the importance of the protection of external borders aiming to agree on the Smart Borders package and promote cooperation between the customs authorities and law enforcement agencies. These initiatives would help to ensure efficient and secure borders, to combat smuggling and to strengthen the EU’s internal security.
According to the Lithuanian Vice-Minister, the preparation of the Trio programme and its endorsement also proved to be very useful for Lithuania’s domestic policy and institutional cooperation.
“This process has mobilised the civil service for joint action and has already enabled us to feel ‘the taste of the Presidency’ and also take a close look at the work of the Council of the EU through the Presidency’s eyes. All our state institutions have grown and I can confirm that Lithuania is now even more prepared to assume the responsibilities ahead of us in the second half of 2013,” Leškevičius said.
Based on this Trio programme, Lithuania will prepare its own programme of the 6-month Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council. Lithuania will take the helm of the Council of the EU on 1 July 2013.