In the Pursuit of Efficient Use of European Union Assistance

Date

2006 10 09

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Vilnius, October 9, 2006. In the pursuit of timely preparation for the use of EU Structural Assistance, today the Government has considered the drafts of the Strategy for the Use of European Union Structural Assistance for 2007-2013 and Action Programmes of Lithuania and has approved them. The Commission for the Preparation of the Strategy was formed and eleven working groups prepared three Action Programmes: Human Resource Development, Economic Growth and Cohesion Promotion. This process was coordinated by the Ministry of Finance. Besides, representatives from the public were also involved in making fatal decisions: socio-economic partners represented a third of working groups’ members. Preparation works and hot discussions lasted over a year, four public considerations were held during this period. After each stage socio-economic partners expressed their opinions and expectations based on which the main documents were re-elaborated.

The drafts of the Strategy and Action Programmes will have to be approved by the Seimas, and in November it is planned to start negotiations with the European Commission. The start of the use and absorption of EU assistance funds – 1 January 2007. Although strategic documents are not final yet and will be further elaborated (also following the EC recommendations), the established objectives, investment directions and feasible outcomes are quite clear. The Strategy outlines the main objective –  a rapid improvement of conditions for investment, work and living in Lithuania so that benefits of economic growth reach all the residents of Lithuania.

Future economic development and welfare depends on the greatest treasure of Lithuania – its people.  The long-term economic growth is most credibly ensured by investments to knowledge, skills, activeness, entrepreneurship of the people of Lithuania. The Human Resources Development Action Programme, for which the planned share of allocations is 16% of total structural support, is designed for mobilisation of all capable for work residents of Lithuania.  

One more extremely important condition for economic growth and employment – scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) as well as innovations. Thus, priorities for the use of EU assistance: strengthening of Lithuanian science and researchers’ capacities, science and business links, attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), improvement of business development are considered to be “the breakthrough areas” for which greater financing is allocated. A rather marked share of investments will be directed to other factors of desirable economic growth – development of transport and energy supply networks and infrastructure of publicly accessible information technologies and electronic telecommunications (IRT). The Economic Growth Action Programme, for which the largest allocation share, i.e. 45.32% of total support, is envisaged, will help to attain these major objectives. It is noteworthy that financing for scientific research and technological development designed for competitiveness of the economy and economic growth is increased up to 10%.

The Cohesion Promotion Action Programme is designed for the implementation of a vision on a well- proportioned society, which, regardless its place of residence, is surrounded by similar living environment and quality of life.   A gap between the big cities and other regions has divided the country into two Lithuanias already – they have to be unified by reducing disparities among regions. This could be done in various ways. Therefore, the Cohesion Promotion Action Programme covers the largest scope of activities. Under this Programme the urban, rural and tourism infrastructure will be improved, accessible and high quality public services, i.e. health care, education, employment, will be ensured; environmental quality improvement measures, in dealing with water supply and waste-water treatment, air pollution, waste management, housing matters, will be also implemented.  The total support allocation for the improvement of living environment and quality of life by reducing disparities among individual regions makes up 39.68% of total EU assistance for 2007-2013.

According to Rolandas Kriščiūnas, Undersecretary of the Ministry, who chairs the Commission, which was preparing the Strategy for the Use of EU Structural Assistance, it was pursued to cover and adjust interests, needs and motivated opinions of all the layers of the society.   “In establishing financial proportions for investment directions, we followed the principle: not a single area to receive lower financing than that allocated in 2004-2006 period”, affirmed R. Kriščiūnas. – Besides, the “breakthrough areas” that most markedly contribute towards economic growth within long period, namely, human resources, scientific research and technological development as well as innovations, were singled out. Several times greater financing is planned for these areas as compared to that received under the SPD – it is possible due to 1.5 times larger structural assistance for the new period”. It is also envisaged to improve the EU assistance administration system for it to become more transparent, simplified and clearer both for beneficiaries and supervisory institutions.

Final distribution rate of EU structural assistance for 2007-2013 amounts to LTL 23 billion, and total assistance allocated to Lithuania makes about LTL 36 billion.

 

Public Relations Division