VILNIUS - Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius was presented with a RegioStars award in Brussels during the Cohesion Forum organized by the EU Commission, reports news agency ELTA. President of the Commission Jose Manuel Barroso awarded countries and regions for their achievements related to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy which included advanced, sustainable and socially responsible economic and social development. The award also takes into account the country’s contribution to efficient, effective and innovative absorption of EU funds.
“Presently, Lithuania is ranked second and third by the absorption of EU funds, leaving our neighbors Latvia and Poland behind,” Prime Minister Kubilius said when accepting the award. He also stressed that the award was an evaluation of Lithuania’s effective and rational implementation of the EU cohesion policy.
Kubilius added that “Obviously, the Cohesion Forum is not the Olympic Games and the awards are not Oscars, but we have gathered here to highlight the solidarity of European integration.” The prime minister noted that Lithuania coped with the hard times with EU assistance. According to him, the situation is improving as Lithuania draws in more investments and its economy starts growing. Kubilius singled out the “difficulties of mentality” as the greatest difficulties it now faces.
In a ceremony, three regions were honored with the title Regions of Excellence. Besides Lithuania, Wales (Great Britain) and Brandenburg (Germany) were most active over the past three years and reached the RegioStars Awards finals.
In total, there were 87 nominees for RegioStars 2010 awards. Even four projects implemented in Lithuania made it to the finals of the EC awards. The project Lazeriai Mikroapdirbimui ir Diagnostikai (Lasers for Micro-processing and Diagnostics) involved four Lithuanian laser technology and photonics companies, which joined their efforts to create industrial lasers of the highest quality for subtle micro-processing.
The computer literacy project carried out by the alliance Langas I Ateiti (Window to the Future) allowed for the training of nearly 51,000 adult Lithuanian residents.
The EU Structural Assistance’s Web site www.esparama.lt won the main prize in the RegioStars category “Web site offering quality information and showing European added value.” An award also went to the project of labor rehabilitation for young people who were once dependent on psychoactive substances. The project is led by the public institution Socialiniai Paramos Projektai (Social Aid Projects) and implemented along with a popular healthy food bar Mano Guru in Vilnius.
Over the past three years, Lithuania implemented nearly 4,000 projects which cost over 4.3 billion euros, with project managers being paid over 2 billion euros. Lithuania is among the leaders as measured by the absorption of EU funds among the new EU member states. Lithuania’s absorption (20.0 percent) of EU funds is almost twice the EU average rate (10.5 percent).