Statement by President von der Leyen on Lithuania’s recovery and resilience plan

(Source: European Commission)

Thank you so much,

President, dear Gitanas,

Prime Minister, dear Ingrida,

Thank you both very much for the very warm welcome I have received here in Lithuania. And being here at the electricity substation, I am very glad to see, and I listened to the experts, what the future of electricity generation and storage will look like in Lithuania. It is fascinating, it is clean energy based on the increased use of renewables – I think 50% until 2025. It is secure energy, which is so important, with your progressive interconnection to the continental European network. And perhaps I may take the picture that just like the battery energy storage system will power the energy of tomorrow, NextGenerationEU is powering a more sustainable, a more digital, a more resilient future for Lithuania.

Because with NextGenerationEU, we are reshaping our continent for decades. We are investing in the digitalisation like never before. We are making the European Green Deal a reality. NextGenerationEU is indeed the largest Recovery Plan the world has ever seen, with a budget in Europe of EUR 800 billion in today’s prices. It is the recovery we need now.

Today, I am very happy to announce that the European Commission has given this morning its green light to Lithuania’s recovery and resilience plan. It follows indeed a very good cooperation with the Lithuanian authorities, and I am very grateful for that, and a thorough assessment by the Commission. And there is no doubt that this plan will enormously boost Lithuania’s economy that will become more innovative – we have seen that here, we have listened to the different projects. It will become more sustainable and it will become more digital.

Let us look at some details. Indeed, 38% of the national plan will support the European Green Deal. And that means a massive investment in clean energy, wind power, solar power, made and stored, as we have seen here, in Lithuania. The plan also foresees a large-scale energy efficiency programme. And that is very important because there is a lot of renovation of buildings and their heating systems. Because we know that 40% of the energy is being used for heating or cooling of buildings. So the more we are efficient there, the better it is for the environment. And there is a strong investment in clean and sustainable mobility, like charging stations for example, or clean buses and other topics.

But what I really appreciate is that besides this strong emphasis on the European Green Deal, the Lithuanian plan has the same level of ambition on our other landmark – and that is digitalisation. It devotes 31% to the digitalisation. And just to give you a few examples for that, there is a significant investment in the roll-out of 5G and high speed networks. There is the digitalisation of the public services. That is good for the Lithuanian businesses, it is good for Lithuanian people, if the administration and the public services are digitised. And there is a massive investment in development of artificial intelligence solutions here in Lithuania.

And there is a third aspect I want to emphasise, and that is that your plan aims to strengthen the national health system. We have all learnt our lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic. And I am very pleased to see that there will be an enormous upgrade to the existing medical facility in the country. There will be a lot of development of eHealth – that is within the digitalisation plan. And I see that there is the plan to develop five centres of expertise for infectious diseases. And indeed, this is very wise, this investment, and far-sighted. Because we have learnt, as I said, our lessons during the pandemic. And while for decades we thought that the infectious diseases will be declining while the chronic diseases will increase, we now see that a new form of infectious diseases, like this COVID-19, is out there and we have to be better prepared. And therefore, this investment is absolutely the right one at the right time.

So in short, your plan clearly meets the demanding criteria we have jointly established. It is very well balanced in the mix of reforms – for example, the reforms and the investment in the educational system – and investments. And it will really transform the growth model of Lithuania. It will help to build a better future for the people of Lithuania. And therefore, our approval is indeed an important milestone for the disbursement of the EUR 2.2 billion over the next years. What is now necessary is the Council’s approval within the next four weeks. But then, we will be ready to disburse the first funds already this month.

My last remark. This sounds like: ‘Okay, we have gotten to a certain goal.’ But this is not the end, it is just the other way around. The hard work starts now, it is about implementing, implementing and again implementing. I just want to say that the European Commission will stand by your side on every step of the implementation phase. It is fascinating to see then the projects grow and the improvement. Of course, there will be problems, there will be successes. So I just wanted to say: This will be a European success made in Lithuania.

Thank you very much.

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