The European Commission has asked Lithuania to transpose provisions of EU directives on quality and safety standards for medical procedures involving reproductive cells.
The EC Representation in Lithuania said in a statement on Thursday, July 16, that the Lithuanian law transposing the directives does not apply to medical procedures involving reproductive cells, although such procedures may be carried out in the country between spouses.
This represents a public health concern, as medical procedures involving reproductive cells, such as in-vitro fertilization, carried out in Lithuania, are, as a consequence, not compliant with the safety and quality standards required by EU law. Lithuania has now two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy this situation. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Lithuania to the Court of Justice of the European Union. There’s no law on artificial insemination in Lithuania, and inseminations procedures are carried out only at private medical establishment operating under the health minister’s decree of 1999.
Medium speed cams installed on Lithuanian highways
Lithuania’s police have commenced installing on the country’s high-ways speed cameras that record a vehicle’s medium speed in a certain section, rather than its instant speed. The first such cameras have been installed in a five-kilometre section on the Via Baltica highway from the 29th kilometre from Kaunas to Marijampolė, Commissioner General of Lithuania’s Police Linas Pernavas said on Thursday, July 16.
Following a trial period, there are plans to expand the network of such cameras, he said.
«Developed EU members states have long concluded that it’s more effective to calculate the medium speed on the section of several or several dozen kilometres, rather that measuring the instant speed. The Via Baltica has been chosen for its high number of accidents as two people are killed in car accident on this road every week,» Pernavas told journalists on Thursday.
If approved by politicians, the police plan to install another dozen cameras in September-October. Later on, the police plans to propose to the government to increase the number of medium speed cameras in the country to« up to one hundred,» which will cost around 1 million euro.
Two CEOs detained for bribe attempt
Officials of Special Investigation Service (STT) detained two CEOs for an attempt to bribe an employee of the Lithuanian Competition Council (KT). The KT‘s employee refused to accept 14,000-euro bribe, an equivalent of the employee’s annual salary, in exchange for a favourable decision in a suspected bid rigging case. If bid rigging in a public procurement charges were presented and confirmed, serious sanctions could be applied to the companies involved: imposing a fine of up to 10 percent of the annual turnover and cancelling allocations of the EU financial support (up to 174,000 euro in this case).
«As the Chairman of Competition Council, I am extremely proud to work with both professional and honest colleagues. Taking this opportunity I would also like to remind all undertakings that leniency is a far much safer way to escape negative consequences of a competition probe,» says Šarūnas Keserauskas, Chairman of the Lithuanian Competition Council.
Lithuanian government approves Greece bailout talks
The Lithuanian government has approved on Thursday, July 16, the European Commission’s decision to negotiate along with the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund financial assistance to Greece under the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
Six ministers voted in favour of the decision and two ministers, delegated by the Labour Party, which said before the meeting that its ministers would not back the proposed Greek bailout plan, abstained from voting. Six other members of the 14-strong Cabinet were not present at the meeting.
«The government authorized me to vote in the ESM governing council tomorrow in favour of opening negotiations with the Greek side on a concrete assistance agreement and its terms and conditions. This is our agreement to begin negotiations,» Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius told reporters after the Cabinet’s meeting.
EU Commissioner Andriukaitis on GM imports
The European Commission wants that EU member states themselves decide if to import genetically modified (GM) animal feed, just like they decide if to grow genetically modified organisms (GMO), EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said on Thursday, July 16.
«We think that countries themselves have to decide if they look at these problems really seriously and scientifically and based on economic and social calculations, or follow populist slogans, which are not a rarity in this field,» he told.
Andriukaitis said that if EU member states did not state their opinion, the European Commission would have to make the decision.
«Under existing regulation, member countries did not express their opinion and the European Commission has to adopt a decision all by itself. Then it is very easy to accuse the Commission of failing to take into account the public’s sceptical position on GM feed,» he said.
According to the Lithuanian commissioner, a decision to let each individual country to decide whether or not to import GM feed might cause problems to the food industry in some states. Currently, 25 EU member states import about 32 million tons of GM feed annually. Maize is currently the only GM crop allowed to be grown commercially in the EU. It is grown in five EU member states, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal and Romania. GM crops are not grown in Lithuania.
Seimas committee proposes establishing Ukraine aid fund
The Lithuanian Seimas’ Committee on European and Foreign Affairs has proposed setting up an aid fund for Ukraine.
The move comes after the committees endorsed the updated assistance plan for Ukraine. Gediminas Kirkilas, chairman of the Committee on European Affairs, told journalists on Wednesday, July 15, that it remains to be seen whether it will be e government fund or a public institution. The decision will be made after consultations with legal experts, he added.
«The establishment of an aid fund is the new thing. We will ask the government to make a small contribution and hope that that fund will be able to attract funds,» Kirkilas said. In his words, the fund will be set up in Lithuania as the European Union already has one. «The EU already has its fund and this one will be ours, Lithuania’s fund,» Kirkilas underlined.
Lithuanian and Latvian presidents discuss joint arms purchase
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis have met for talks in Vilnius this week. During their meeting both head-of-states have discussed, among other things, collective armaments purchase, in particular, jointly acquiring medium-range air defence systems.
According to Vējonis, joint purchase of air defence systems has great potential in the format of bilateral cooperation; however, cooperation of all three Baltic States and Poland in this area is no less important.
«We have discussed ways to enhance our joint military exercises. There are many good ideas, including the air defence field and purchase of missiles. We can see considerable potential for our cooperation,» Vējonis said, stressing that all purchases will have to be made in accordance with approved funding. President Grybauskaitė did not go into detail about the bilateral plans, but underlined that all potential purchases would have to be made in line with financial capabilities of all countries involved.