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Lithuania

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2007 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 507 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 707 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1204 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission considered that the social reforms needed to be pursued, that the public health system had to be overhauled and that the social dialogue also had to be reinforced. It also urged Lithuania to strive harder to bring its legislation into line with the Community requirements in areas such as health and safety, labour law and equal opportunities, and to continue to develop the structures needed for effective enforcement of the legislation. The Commission concluded that Lithuania should be able to take on the obligations of EU membership in the medium term, provided it pursued its efforts.

The November 1998 Report confirmed that Lithuania had made headway as regards legislation in the field of health and safety at work, but that it would have to make an enormous effort to transpose and apply the acquis in the field of employment and social affairs.

Since then some progress has been made, notably in the field of health and safety at work.

The 2003 Report states that Lithuania is largely in line with the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the areas of employment law, equal treatment, health and safety at work, the social dialogue, employment policy, social inclusion and social protection. It should be in a position to implement the acquis in these areas when it joins the Union.

While Lithuania fulfils most of the requirements for accession in the areas of public health, the European Social Fund and prevention of discrimination, further progress is nevertheless needed in these areas.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

In the social affairs field, apart from the various specific action programmes, such as those in the area of public health, and the European Social Fund, EU legislation covers health and safety at work, labour law and working conditions, equal opportunities for men and women, coordination of social security schemes for migrant workers, and tobacco products.

In all these areas, the EU's social legislation lays down minimum requirements, accompanied by safeguard clauses for the most advanced Member States.

In addition, the consultation of the social partners and the social dialogue at European level are enshrined in Articles 138 and 139 of the Treaty (ex-Articles 118a and 118b).

EVALUATION

The unemployment rate reached 14.7% in May 2000, the highest level since independence. Measures have been taken to address the problem, such as a centre for youth employment which was opened in Vilnius in September 1999. The 2003 Report states that the unemployment rate was 13.1% in 2002 and 13.8% in the first quarter of 2003.
With regard to employment policy, Lithuania must implement the priorities identified in the Joint Assessment Paper in order to be able to participate fully in the European Employment Strategy.

In the course of the year 2000, Lithuania adopted several legislative measures to transpose Community legislation in the field of health and safety at work. Four new texts were adopted, transposing the directives on work equipment, the provision of safety signs, fishing vessels and noise. In the run-up to accession, Lithuania has almost completed legislative alignment in this area.

As regards the social dialogue, the November 2000 report indicates that Lithuania has quite a long way to go. Tripartite structures predominate and the State still plays a major role. A law designed to encourage bilateral dialogue in industry was adopted in February 2000. The 2003 Report states that the institutional and administrative framework needed to promote the social dialogue is in place but the administrative capacity of the social partners and the public authorities needs to be increased.

As regards equal opportunities, although national legislation already incorporates certain basic Community rules on non-discrimination, in actual practice the principle is not always respected. To remedy this Lithuania has created the post of mediator. The mediator can in particular investigate the implementation of the law governing equal opportunities by employers. The national labour inspectorate also has powers in this area.
In the run-up to its accession, Lithuania has now transposed most of the legislation on equal treatment for men and women.

In its 2000 Report the Commission stressed that further work was needed in the field of public health. Lithuania has already adopted measures to transpose the tobacco directives, but the 2003 Report points out that transposal of this legislation must be completed. Lithuania has also declared that it wishes to participate in the Community programmes for the prevention of AIDS and other communicable diseases and drug addiction. The National Health Fund was created in 1999 with a view to financing health programmes and public bodies responsible for public health. According to the 2003 Report, Lithuanian legislation on the prevention of communicable diseases is in line with Community requirements. Nevertheless, significant administrative and technical progress is needed, along with increased capacity, in order to fully implement these requirements. Lithuania should focus on increasing health expenditure and on improving the health of the population.

The 2003 Report states that Lithuania is currently completing the alignment of its legal provisions in the area of employment law and that changes are still required in the following areas: European Works Councils, the posting of workers, part-time work and temporary work.

With regard to the European Social Fund, including the EQUAL initiative, while considerable progress was made in the course of 2003, further work is urgently needed in order to increase administrative capacity for management, implementation, monitoring, auditing and inspection at both regional and national levels.

In the course of 2004, the Commission and Lithuania must finalise the Joint Memorandum on social inclusion, which identifies key challenges and possible policy orientations for promoting social inclusion. On this basis, an integrated strategy and an action plan on social inclusion will have to be drawn up at national level.

Finally, in the area of social protection, it is necessary to pursue the strategic objectives of the national programme for the social integration of persons with disabilities, particularly those objectives designed to facilitate social integration and equal opportunities. Sustained efforts are also required in order to adopt and implement the social security reform and the pension reform.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 12.01.2004
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