Lithuanian parlt committees urge president, PM to agree on who goes to EU summit

  • 2021-05-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania's parliamentary committees on European and foreign affairs on Wednesday urged President Gitanas Nauseda and Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte to agree on who of them should go to the next EU summit.  

In a statement approved in a vote of 14 to three with one abstention, the committees called on the two leaders to "join forces and agree on the most appropriate representation of Lithuania" before the next EU summit in June, "taking into account issues discussed at the European Council's meetings".

"We also discussed whether legal acts should be reviewed to regulate these issues more clearly" if the two leaders fail to agree by the June summit, Radvile Morkunaite-Mikuleniene, the chairwoman of the Committee on European Affairs, told reporters.  

Currently, only two countries, Lithuania and Romania, are represented at the European Council's meetings by their presidents, while all others send their prime ministers to EU summits, she noted. 

"We do understand that the president is in charge of foreign policy issues under the Constitution, but all other issues [...], such as the fight against the pandemic, Green Deal commitments or social issues, fall within the government's responsibility," the conservative MP said. 

The conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats began to raise the European Council representation issue after winning last autumn's parliamentary election.

The conservatives mentioned earlier that a special law could be passed to allow sending the prime minister to EU summits, too.   

The initiators say the prime minister should go to EU summits because the bloc's leaders mostly discuss issues falling within the government's remit and because it cannot be ensured the president adheres to the mandate approved by the Seimas and the government. They also note that the president does not participate in European political parties' activities.

Critics maintain that the Homeland Union are using double standards in a bid to expand their influence, saying that the conservatives let President Dalia Grybauskaite take their place at the European Council and it is only now that they began to raise the issue. 

Nauseda says he will continue to represent Lithuania in all summits.