Conference “Creating the Future of Lithuania: EU Structural Assistance for Lithuania 2007-2013”
Yesterday, the Conference “Creating the Future of Lithuania: EU Structural Assistance for Lithuania 2007-2013” was organised by the Ministry of Finance in Vilnius (“ForumPalace”, Konstitucijos av. 26). In the conference strategy and three operational programmes – the major work accomplished –- were presented to social and economic partners that hade been actively involved in the preparatory process. The general Strategy objective is rapidly improve conditions for living, working and investing in Lithuania so that the benefits provided by economic growth would reach each individual resident.
“Utilisation of the EU structural assistance has been already planned. Science, economy, cohesion – these three words symbolically define priority trends of the EU Structural Fund investments, - states the Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius. – Sincerely wishing that Lithuania would make use of the opportunities offered by the EU structural assistance, I invite everyone to assume responsibility and together create the future of Lithuania.”
Taking fatal decisions on utilisation of this assistance, in preparation of the Strategy and operational programmes not only line ministries were involved, but socio-economic partners, regional representatives also took active participation in it, the preparatory process involved the Seimas and President’s Office. A lot of opinions were discussed in public discussions organised by the Ministry of Finance and working groups. The result – strategic documents prepared by Lithuania were summarily acknowledged by the European Commission as satisfying the requirements and were shortly approved.
The EU Structural Fund’s assistance for Lithuania in 2007-2013 makes up more than LTL23 billion. Having prudently and successfully used such an amount, which is nearly of the same size as the one-year State budget, we may come closer to the average economic development level of the EU Member States and by the year 2015, by the standard of living, to catch up with some old members of the EU. Then Lithuania would become much more attractive for living, working and investing in.
Science. Economy. Cohesion
A little time has passed since Lithuania regained its independence; however during this period the national economy saw fundamental changes. It encountered with a deep economic recession, inflation and huge unemployment, afterwards, the recovering Lithuania’s economy has been negatively influenced by Russian economic crisis. New economic growth trends were evidenced only in 2002, and already in 2003 Lithuania became the leading European country according to the gross domestic product growth.
However, the current trend analysis demonstrates that Lithuania enters the phase of decelerating economic growth. In order to maintain a more rapid economic growth in longer-run, it is necessary to accurately re-orient public investments, at the same time making use of the opportunities offered by the EU structural assistance. The world faces a rapid productivity growth, which is caused by new management methods, modern technologies and work automation.
Lithuania, seeking for economic growth sources, has to orient itself towards high value added goods and services the production of which requires less raw materials and fuels, but greater knowledge and bigger capacities, as these resources in particular are inexhaustible and regularly renewable ones. Therefore, Lithuania sets a goal to orient itself towards the science and knowledge based economy.
Knowledge economy should be based on intensive knowledge creation, its adaptation and people able to do it. Opening of EU labour markets increased emigration from Lithuania. Though according to decline in unemployment rates Lithuania is a leading European country, the unemployment in our country is decreasing on the account of emigration, and emigrants are mainly young and high-skilled people. Only properly oriented investments can help to essentially cope with the complicated situation on the labour market. In the country of today, the ability of orientation towards the society which adequately employs available knowledge resources becomes a successful national economic development factor.
Rapid growth of the economy, at least within the short-term, naturally causes increasing disparities in territorial and social development. However, sustainable development is possible only through rational employment of the available reserves and in an integrated society, when the improvement of the quality of life potential reaches as many people as possible. Aiming at sustainable development, we have to estimate and use all the available domestic development resources and to encourage people to stay to work and live in their native areas. Therefore, disparities between the main cities and the rest of the towns and small towns should be reduced: modern infrastructure should be developed, high quality education, health and social services should be ensured, conditions for work should be created. The goal – the quality of life and cohesion, so that all the residents of Lithuania felt themselves as a part of the single community, and that separate social groups shared the benefits provided by economic development.
More information on EU structural assistance, the Strategy and operational programmes for 2007–2013 is available at: http://www.esparama.lt/en/.
Material of the conference is available at: http://www.esparama.lt/lt/pasirengimas/partneryste/Konferencija
Ministry of Finance. Information updated 2007-12-13