News2019.07.01 17:50

Lithuania's EU policy 'provincial', inability to play party politics undermines influence

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS 2019.07.01 17:50

Difficulties in assigning EU posts reflects the growing influence of European parties, while Lithuania's inability to play party politics reduces its influence on common decision-making, diplomats say.

Taking place since Sunday in Brussels, the talks on who will take EU's top jobs have mainly focused on party affiliation, and not the geographical or gender balance.

"Party politics prevail," one high-ranking diplomat told BNS.

Four EU officials from different institutions talked about these tendencies with BNS, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity nature of the issue.

Grybauskaitė's non-affiliation is her main "flaw"

Several diplomats say Grybauskaitė stands little chance of becoming the president of the European Council, due to her lack of party affiliation. 

Party meetings to consider candidates have not included Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė. Lithuania's involvement in party talks is also blocked by the Constitution, which states the president cannot be a member of any political party. Under the long-standing tradition, the president is the one representing Lithuania at top meetings.

"Party influence is growing, and we, as a smaller country, have less and less chance of influencing processes and get one or the other post," another diplomat said.

Lithuania's EU policy "provincial"

Diplomats say the latest summit reflects the new tendency, as party groups' influence has been growing for the past few years.

Practically every European Council meeting is preceded by party meetings where future issues are discussed by leaders belonging to the same political group.

Although Lithuanian president's involvement could raise doubts on whether it complies with the constitutional non-affiliation principle, Lithuanian politicians themselves fail to act in other formats.

"European parties' influence on decision-making is growing, and Lithuania is hardly taking part in the party game, excluding the EPP. Lithuania's policy is rather provincial in this respect," one diplomat told BNS.

The ongoing talks on EU posts will continue from midday on Tuesday (Lithuanian time), with intense consultations taking place until then.

"Nothing has been agreed so far yet. New names might come into play, some indicative votes could take place with some candidates having more chances," one diplomat directly related to the ongoing talks told BNS.

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