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Lithuania

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1) REFERENCES

Commission opinion [COM(1997) 2007 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(1998) 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(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1750 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1406 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1204 - 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 July 1997 opinion, the Commission concluded that there would be no major problems in the field of research and technological development (RTD). It also considered that the telecommunications sector could be integrated in the EC internal market, provided that there was no let-up in the efforts made. With regard to the information society, it stressed that the underdeveloped telephone network would probably hamper progress in the sector, unless Lithuania experienced strong economic growth and invested in its telecommunications.

The November 1998 Report concluded that, while there had been progress in the telecommunications sector, little progress had been made in the two other sectors research and information society) since the July 1997 opinion.

The 1999 and 2000 Reports noted appreciable progress in this field. In November 2000, the Commission noted that developments had taken place as regards the regulatory regime in the telecom sector.

The October 2002 Report emphasises the further progress made as regards RTD, in particular the establishment of a new science and technology park and the approval of a plan for the restructuring of State scientific and higher education institutions. The report also mentions the further progress made in aligning with the acquis, both in the field of telecommunications and in the field of postal services.

The 2003 Report notes that Lithuania must devote attention to the transposition and implementation of the acquis in the telecommunications area, inter alia, by setting reasonable terms for interconnection and by implementing the principle of universal services. Further efforts must be made with regard to completing the transposition of the acquis in the postal sector and to ensuring its implementation.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

Research and technological development activities at Community level, as provided for in Article 164 of the EC Treaty (former Article 130G) and the Framework Programme (Article 166, former Article 130I), are aimed at improving the competitiveness of European industry and the quality of life, promoting sustainable development and contributing to the development of other Community policies.

The European Association Agreement between the European Union and Lithuania provides for cooperation in these areas, notably through the participation of the Associated State in the Framework Programme. The White Paper on the associated countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market of the Union (1995) includes no direct measures in this field.

The objective of Community telecommunications policy is to remove obstacles to the smooth functioning of the single market in telecommunications equipment, services and networks, to open foreign markets to Community undertakings and to give European Union citizens and businesses access to modern services. These objectives are to be met by harmonising standards and conditions of service provision, liberalising the markets for terminals, services and networks and adopting any regulatory measures necessary.

The Europe Agreement stipulates that the raising of standards and practices in the field of telecommunications and postal services, standardisation, regulation and modernisation of infrastructures to Community level is to be achieved through cooperation. The White Paper places the emphasis on approximation of legislation, networks and services, and on the measures to be taken to gradually liberalise the sector.

EVALUATION

Research and technological development

With regard to research and technological development (RTD), Lithuania has been associated with the Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002) since October 1999. It has also expressed interest in being associated with the Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006).

In March 2000 a law on higher education was adopted, principally regulating the research activities of higher education institutes. In October 2001, a plan for the restructuring of State science and higher education institutions was approved by the government. In January 2002, a group of experts was set up to evaluate the systems of State science and higher education institutions and to determine the priority trends of science and science-applied activities. Progress has also been made in strengthening cooperation between research and development institutions and SMEs. A concept paper on science and technology parks was adopted and widely discussed by the academic and business communities. A new science and technology park, IT Visoriai, is being set up in Vilnius. The memorandum establishing a science and technology park in Kaunas was signed in January 2002.

However, Lithuania will need to increase gross domestic expenditure on RTD. Promoting research in Lithuania will, in particular, require a further increase in business expenditure on research and development, i.e. spending by industry, small and medium-sized enterprises and the private sector in general. Lithuania must also introduce legislation to facilitate the creation of high-tech business, in particular to attract foreign investment.

Telecommunications

The Telecommunications Act was adopted in June 1998 and provides for the liberalisation of the telecommunications market as from 31 December 2002. Until this date, the national company Lietuvos Telekomas will be the sole provider of local, inter-urban or international services through the fixed telephone network, and the only operator of fixed telephony services. In June 2000, the State sold another 25% of the operator's shares, thereby reducing the State's holding to 10%. Liberalisation of the fixed telephony sector needs to take place effectively. Penetration in mobile services has reached 30%. There are three GSM operators, but UMTS licences have yet to be issued. Fixed network penetration has reached 34%. Fixed network modernisation and price rebalancing still have some way to go. Following market opening, local loop unbundling needs to be implemented and fixed network modernisation and price re-balancing should be continued.

The Act amending the Telecommunications Act was adopted in July 2002. It specifies the functions of the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA), simplifies access to the telecommunications market and eliminates the licensing of telecommunications activities. In February 2002, three implementing legislative acts were adopted. In March 2002, the CRA adopted a procedure for settling disputes between telecommunications operators.

Administrative capacity

The administrative capacity of the CRA was increased in April 2002. Nevertheless, it is still not sufficient to implement and enforce the legislation needed to comply with the acquis. More resources are also needed to work on economic and legal aspects of regulation in an efficient and independent way.

Postal services

The Lithuanian Post Office, Lietuvos Paštas, is a State undertaking which has exclusive rights to collect and deliver mail and postal orders. It is obliged to provide a universal postal service conforming to EU requirements. In October 2001, the Lithuanian Parliament adopted the Act amending the Postal Act. It entered into force in January 2002. It establishes the legal basis for postal activities and regulates relations between providers and users of postal services. It also provides for additional functions for the CRA.
The administrative capacity in this sector needs to be strengthened through further staffing and training in order for Lithuania to be able to implement the acquis adequately. The 2002 acquis remains to be fully transposed and implemented.

Information society

Lithuania participates in the high-level committee on the information society. The information society is being created in the framework of the national communications and information development programme. Major efforts must still be made, however, to modernise the national information system, in particular the land registry.

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

 
Last updated: 20.02.2004
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