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Who will be the next EU Commissioner for Lithuania?

Alan Riley from Atlantic Council

By Angele Kedaitiene. Its mid-July and there is time for discussing the new EU Commissioner for Lithuania.

According to the influential media Website DELFI, there are three candidates from the recent Government, all the Ministers, proposed by Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, who could take the post. These are the Finance minister Vilius Sapoka, Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaičiūnas and the Economics Minister Virgilijus Sinkevicius. This means that Lithuania would aim at portfolios of DG ECFIN, DG ENERGY, DG FISMA, or DG GROWTH, what would be the significant leap forward, like that Dalia Grybauskaite has made in 2004 with her nomination as first EU Commissioner for Lithuania for finances and budget.

Vilius Šapoka has worked as the Director of Financial services and markets supervision department at the Lithuanian national bank, also as the Director at the Securities Commission, at the Swedbank and at the Ministry of Finance.

Zygimantas Vaiciunas has been working at the same ministry of Energy for 10 years, including as the adviser to the Vice Minister, in 2014 to 2016 he has been attaché for Energy at the Lithuanian permanent representation by EU.

Virgilijus Sinkevičius is the youngest Minister in the recent Government. He has worked at the Lithuanian Post, Lithuanian airport, agency Invest in Lithuania, took part in civil society initiatives. He has graduated from Maastricht university in Netherlands and Aberystwyth university in UK.

However, political scientist Sarunas Liekis when asked to comment on the proposed candidates, has been critical to them, in sense they are young and without long term serious international experience. This is a business type of youth, who shall serve much longer to mature and to be fit for the post of EU Commissioner, which is the political position.

According to him, candidature of Vygaudas Usackas would be much better here. Vygaudas Usackas has been candidate for the recent Presidential elections, he leads European institute at Kaunas Technology University. Earlier he has been Minister of Foreign affairs, and later – EU ambassador in Afghanistan and in Russian Federation, selected by the European external action service. In this sense, he has good work experience with EU institution, and on the international stage.

Alan Riley, the senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, thinks that Lithuania could have the serious portfolio this time, he would be for the Commissioner of Energy. According to him, in January of next year, EU could face serious energy crisis, because the gas transit agreement between Ukraine and Russia comes to an end, and the Commissioner from East European country, who knows the region, could be helpful here.

Furthermore, considering gender equality,  Lithuanian liberals propose Ingrida Simonyte, who would be good choice for the female EU Commissioner.

President Gitanas Nauseda did not make the choice yet or named his candidate. According to him, Lithuania needs EU Commissioner, who would be operational and effective on EU stage, not that selected for political push. He did not name any concrete portfolio, just mentioned that he sees suitable persons in a few areas, and he will speak on them in the nearest days.

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