Monday

25th Sep 2017

Focus

Lithuanian President dubbed 'extraordinary European'

  • Dalia Grybauskaite was EU budget commissioner until 2009 (Photo: Office of the Lithuanian President)

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite on Thursday (9 May) was awarded the Charlemagne Prize for her "oustanding" merits in European politics, just as her country prepares to take over the rotating EU presidency on 1 July.

Coinciding with Europe Day, the award ceremony took place in the German city of Aachen and was dubbed the "EU Oscar" by Lithuanian media.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It was attended by top EU officials such as council chief Herman Van Rompuy and European Parliament chief Martin Schulz, as well as German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who won the prize last year.

Grybauskaite, 57 years old, is a former EU budget commissioner and minister of finance in her country before being elected the first female president of Lithuania, in 2009.

She has a black belt in judo and has been nicknamed the "Iron lady" for her tough negotiating style and the harsh austerity measures her government imposed to get Lithuania out of the economic crisis, without external assistance.

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz said Grybauskaite is "an extraordinary European woman and an outstanding politician."

Schulz, a Social-Democrat, admitted that he and Grybauskaite are "far from seeing eye to eye on all political ideas, particularly on the policy of one-sided budgetary austerity." But he said he "greatly respects" the Baltic politician for being "courageous and straightforward."

"If we had more people in leading positions in Europe with such courage, we would have significantly fewer problems in the EU," Schulz said.

For her part, Grybauskaite dedicated the prize to the Lithuanian people in recognition of decades of hardship - including the fight for independence from the Soviet rule and overcoming the economic crisis.

She made an appeal for Europe to continue with "responsible fiscal policy" but also insisted on social measures.

"Today Europe will not be able to continue without responsible social decisions. Lithuania recovered from the global economic crisis not only by introducing financial discipline, but also by reaching social consensus," Grybauskaite said.

"Fiscal policies cannot ignore the most vulnerable if people’s trust is to be maintained ... We have to invest today so that disappointment does not become the guiding principle for Europe," she added.

Often compared to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also won the Charlemagne Prize in 2008, Grybauskaite praised Germany for its leadership on European level.

"Today Germany plays the leading role in ensuring European stability and does not allow us to wander from the path of trust in Europe. That is why it is Germany which gets the strongest criticism – and also our deepest respect," she said.

Handed out every year since 1950 to individuals and institutions for their pro-European policies, the Charlemagne prize was only awarded to four other women before Grybauskaite: Merkel, Dutch Queen Beatrix, Norway's long-serving Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and Simone Veil, the first female President of the European Parliament.

Lithuania unveils EU presidency logo

With less than two months to go before taking over the rotating EU presidency on 1 July, Lithuania has unveiled the logo that will brand its EU meetings.

Lithuania: In the EU spotlight

Lithuania takes over the EU presidency on 1 July. EUobserver talks to the country's leading politicians about its austerity policy, its euro plans and relations with eastern neighbours.

Article 7 not mentioned in Poland probe update

While Polish president Andrzej Duda proposes amendments to further increase political control over the judiciary, EU ministers voice support for the rule of law, but make no mention of the Article 7 sanctions.

US tests EU patience over Privacy Shield

The data sharing pact with the US is yet to be fully implemented, as the Americans have failed to appoint people in key positions to ensure EU citizens' personal data is protected.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel