President of the Republic of Lithuania

Membership in the EU – one of the best decisions in Lithuania’s history

2014-04-30

Wednesday, April 30, Vilnius - As Lithuania marks the 10th anniversary of its membership in the EU, President Grybauskaitė congratulated the participants of the conference "Ten years of Lithuania's membership in the European Union" - academics, political scientists, representatives of business, political parties and non-governmental organizations.

The President underlined that EU membership has ensured an opportunity for Lithuanian people to freely choose their own future, build a more secure state and seek prosperity.

"Membership in the European Union is one of the best decisions in Lithuania's history. It is a new quality stage of development of our country. The first ten years of Lithuanian membership have brought about many positive changes for Lithuanian people. Today we live in a secure state where European values are cherished and promoted, and can enjoy growing economic well-being. We have reaffirmed our ability to contribute to building our successful future and the future of the whole of Europe," the President said.

According to the President, one of the underlying EU values - freedom of movement - has become a matter of fact for us. Lithuanian people can travel, work and study freely in all member states, gain valuable experience abroad, and get acquainted with the latest scientific inventions and innovations. More than 20,000 students from Lithuania have already participated in the European student exchange programme Erasmus.

Membership in one of strongest economic organizations, the President noted, also triggered rapid economic growth of our country. Lithuania is the fastest of all EU member states in promoting the well-being - the standard of living has increased by one-third since accession. Lithuanian products, businesses and services have gained access to a 500 million strong consumer market. Our exports to the European Union have almost tripled in the past ten years.

The EU financial assistance - almost one quarter of our national budget - significantly contributed to boosting the general good of the country and its people. Each Lithuanian citizen felt direct benefits from this support. It was used to renovate historic and cultural buildings, streets and roads, thermally insulate every fifth school of Lithuania, and to purchase new modern teaching devices. Using the European assistance, business is creating new jobs for Lithuanian people.

The head of state noted that membership in the EU helped not only ensure the country's economic security, but also seek energy security. The creation of the European single energy market was started five years ago, the EU supports Lithuania's strategic energy projects - power interconnections with Sweden and Poland. All this will serve to lower consumer prices, and ensure the security of energy supplies and Lithuania's energy independence.

According to the President, EU membership helped Lithuania strengthen its political standing in the international arena. Lithuania has successfully passed the test of EU presidency proving by own example that it is not the size of a nation that makes a successful presidency, but hard work, openness to the opinions of partners and focus on common agreement. She noted that international community's trust in Lithuania has increased and that our people have reaffirmed their ability to contribute in a dynamic and responsible way to building a common future of Europe.

President Grybauskaitė also emphasized that today the success of European integration and Lithuania's engagement are more important than ever for us. "Russia's aggression in Ukraine is fundamentally changing the security situation, undermining the established norms of international relations; therefore, a strong and unified European Union, capable of counterbalancing the imperial ambitions of Russia, is critically important for Lithuanian security. The initial political responsibility of the European Union for peace and stability is now more relevant than ever," the President underlined.

We cannot allow ourselves to doubt the future of a united Europe, she said. We need to work towards an efficient European Union which would bring the trust of the people back.

Copyright - R. Dačkus 

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2014.04.30 09:44

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