President on EU-US talks, financial obligations, youth unemployment and gay parade issue

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from The Lithuania tribune:

During an annual press conference, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė commented on a number of topical issues, among which she expressed her stance on the EU-US data protection, gay parade in Vilnius, Lithuania’s participation in tackling youth unemployment and implementation of financial discipline.

EU-US consultations on data protection

The consultations that kicked off between the European Union (EU) and the United States following the so-called spying scandal should continue shortly in Brussels and Lithuania.

“The consultations will continue in Brussels and, in the nearest future, in Lithuania,” Grybauskaitė told a news conference on Wednesday when asked by BNS about media reports about large-scale US spying in Europe.

Financial discipline obligations

Lithuania is late to implement its obligations in relation to financial discipline as the government has not yet submitted the required constitutional law, the President said.

“A backlog still remains – something that the government has not done. The government has yet to submit to the Seimas a special constitutional law on financial discipline, which is required to establish financial stability, something we are obliged to do. As a consequence, we are late to meet our obligations already,” she said at an annual news conference on Wednesday.

Dalia Grybauskaitė | DELFI, Photo by Š. Mažeika

In March 2012, Lithuania signed the EU fiscal discipline pact, under which the country’s structural deficit should not exceed 0.5 percent of GDP. Hence Lithuania shall make respective amendments to its fiscal discipline law now.

The Finance Ministry last year drafted a constitutional law setting out the balanced budget rule, which would enable the country to meet its commitments undertaken under the EU fiscal pact. The Finance Ministry said at the time, when the previous government was still in office, that the pact, which the Seimas ratified in June 2012, could be implemented through the adoption of a constitutional law establishing the rules on economic stability and growth.

The EU fiscal pact was devised in response to the debt crisis in the euro zone. It was signed by 25 Member States, which agreed to take measures to maintain the annual structural deficit below 0.5 percent of GDP provided there were no exceptional circumstances.

The pact, which only the UK and the Czech Republic refused to join, also provides for sanctions against offenders.

Youth unemployment

“Lithuania may expect up to 900 million litas in the years 2014 and 2015 if it manages to work out the schemes and take that money,” Grybauskaitė said.

The President noted that Lithuania may expect to receive a total of 44.5 billion litas (EUR 13 b) in EU funds in the 2014-2020 financial period, four billion litas more than in the current period, adding that a special focus is placed in the EU on reducing unemployment, especially youth unemployment.

According to figures from Eurostat, unemployment among young people aged under 25 in Lithuania last year stood at 26.4 per cent. The rate was 21.2 perc ent in April of this year.

EU leaders agreed last week to allocate six billion euros for combating youth unemployment on a fast track basis.

LGBT pride parade

Dalia Grybauskaitė at the pess conference | DELFI, Photo by Š. Mažeika

President Dalia Grybauskaite refused to comment on the LGBT parade until a court verdict.

“I personally do not participate in any rallies, I haven’t done so until now and have no intentions of participating in any,” Grybauskaitė stated.

She received a call to participate in the rally during her visit at the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg on 3 July, 2013.

Dutch MEP Sophia in ‘t Veld announced her plans to come to Vilnius for the parade, expressing hope to see the Lithuanian leader there, as well.

“I would very much encourage the Lithuanian presidency to start leading by example by lifting the ban on the pride march in the centre of Vilnius. (…) I hope to see you in Vilnius on the 27th of July and celebrate the diversity of Europe,” in ‘t Veld told Grybauskaitė.

During her comment at the press conference on Wednesday, the Lithuanian President recalled that the Constitution guaranteed equal rights for gathering for all citizens of Lithuania but did not comment on the venue of the event. Vilnius municipality has refused to issue a permit for sexual minorities to march along the city’s central Gedimino Avenue.

“When it comes to the venue of certain events – it is the prerogative of the municipality. It should be decided by those who approached the municipality and the municipality itself. The court, the second court, has already ordered that the municipality should settle the issue. If an appeal is again filed (against the ruling) to a higher instance, it will decide then. Therefore, I do not want to comment here, as the process is not over yet,” she told journalists.

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