The Advantages of Lithuania’s Integration into the European Union
The integration into the European Union is one of the most crucial objectives of the Lithuania’s foreign policy. Beginning with 1989-1990, when the decision of the Baltic States to restore independence manifested itself, the largest Western states became interested in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. One of the most important events of that period happened on December 14, 1990 when the leaders of the Baltic States governments for the first time appealed to the European Economic Community of that time asking to allocate them political, economical and cultural help directly and not through the ex-USSR. In 1991, after the events that took place in Lithuania on January 13, the EU strictly condemned the application of forces in the Baltic States, and on August 27, 1991, according to the suggestion of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of France and Germany, by common consent recognised the independence of the Baltic States. In 1992 Lithuania and the EU signed the Trade, Commercial and Economical Co-operation Agreement and the declaration concerning political dialogue between Lithuania and the EU was taken. From the very beginning of official relations with Lithuania, the EU began to render assistance to Lithuania through the PHARE programme. On June 12, 1995 Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia signed the European (Association) Agreements with the EU, in which the objective of the Baltic States to become members of the EU was recognised.
It is impossible to see such an important step as Lithuania’s integration into the European Union in only one perspective. Undoubtedly, this historical fact would have brought both positive and negative results, which are often closely interrelated. Moreover, the integration into the European Union is a long process not confining itself only into signing and validity of the agreement. It includes changes happening both before and after conclusion of the agreement. Therefore it is necessary to talk about the results not only of the integration into the EU, but also of the preparation to the membership.
A few types of the positive consequences could be singled out:
1. Economical consequences;
2. Fiscal consequences;
3. Social consequences;
4. Political consequences;
5. Safety consequences;
The European Unity is the most important united market in the world including about 400 millions of residents. It is necessary to notice that Lithuania is already trading with some EU countries (e.g., in 1998 Lithuania’s export and import into the EU made up 37.98% and 50.16% of all Lithuania’s export and import). By January 1, 1999 direct foreign investments into Lithuania’s economics had made up 1625.30 million USD, 61.23% of which had been the investments from the EU. The greatest part of the direct investments from the EU makes up the investments from Sweden (27.54%), Finland (17.43%) and Germany (13.32%).
Speaking about the economical consequences of the integration into the EU it is necessary to start with the characterisation of the internal market of the EU. This market has no inner borders, therefore merchandise, people, services and capital move freely there.
a. Free movement of merchandise is at the same time abolishment of customs and custom taxes. Moreover, it is common politics of foreign trade and taxes and extermination of non-tariff barriers.
b. The movement of services is the possibility to provide them within the whole area of the internal market.
c. Free movement of capital is the right to invest, buy property and securities; to use profits freely in any state taking part in the united market.
d. Free movement of people is unlimited freedom to live, establish one’s own business and work in any state belonging to the EU.
In order to accomplish all the above-mentioned in Lithuania it is necessary to abolish the existing barriers that prevent the movement. The abolishment of the barriers would provide the opportunity for Lithuania to make use of the advantages of the united market. We could single out several consequences of the abolishment influencing Lithuanian economics: