Unemployment, nuclear energy, and the Baltic Sea Strategy

Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University

Jurga Valančiūtė
 
Unemployment has grown drastically
 
Lithuania has been deeply influenced by the current financial crisis. One of the most problematic consequences of the crisis is a significant increase in the level of unemployment. Several years ago, Lithuania did not face the problem of unemployment, as its level was very low, but according to the latest data provided by the Lithuanian Office of Statistics, the level of unemployment was as high as 13.7 percent at the end of 2009.[1] This means that Lithuania has the third highest unemployment level in the EU after Spain and Latvia. In this context, it is becoming harder for inexperienced and young people to find jobs and, in 2009, the unemployment level among the youth had reached 29.3 percent.[2] The Bank of Lithuania estimates that the level of unemployment might reach up to 16.7 percent this year.[3]
 
Closure of Ignalina nuclear power plant was not postponed
 
Implementing the provisions of the EU accession treaty, Lithuania closed the second block of the Ignalina nuclear power plant at the end of 2009. Ignalina was the major source of electricity since 1997, producing more than 80 percent of all electricity used in Lithuania. Lithuanian obligations to close the power plant encouraged various fuelled fears among Lithuanian society and politicians who urged not to close the power plant and made attempts to prolong its functioning. This also gave ground for abundant political speculation. However, the EU had a strict position on the issue and the Ignalina nuclear power plant stopped producing electricity on 31 December 2009. In this context, EU energy policy on electricity and gas interconnections with the rest of EU are of vital importance to Lithuania.
 
Lithuania congratulates the adoption of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
 
Lithuanian officials favoured the adoption of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, as very important projects for Lithuania are included in this Strategy. Former Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Vygaudas Usackas said that the Baltic Sea Strategy has a significant importance.[4] Important projects, such as electricity and gas interconnections with other EU member states, are included in the Strategy, which will help reduce Lithuanian energy isolation, which is one of the most sensitive issues to Lithuania. Therefore, it is expected that the inclusion of these projects into the Strategy will foster their implementation.


[1] Data of Lithuanian Office of Statistics, Lithuanian Labour Exchange and Eurostat provide quite similar data. The new report by the Lithuanian Statistics Office on the level of unemployment in the first quarter of 2010 will be published on 25 May 2010.

[2] Verslo žinios: Unemployment during the last year has grown by almost 2.5 times (Nedarbas pernai išaugo beveik pustrečio karto), 23 February 2010, available at: http://vz.lt/2/straipsnis/2010/02/23/Nedarbas_pernai_isaugo_beveik_pustr... (last access: 9 June 2010).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Foreign Affairs Minister Vygaudas Usackas: EU Baltic sea strategy: new possibilities and challenges (Taujėnų dvaras, Ukmergės raj), presentation, 13 November 2009, available at: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?130737639 (last access: 9 June 2010).

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