Lithuania

V - 136(3) TFEU

At the 16/17 December 2010 European Council a political decision was taken to amend the Treaties through the simplified revision procedure of article 48(6) TFEU. On March 25, 2011 the European Council adopted the legal decision to amend article 136 TFEU by adding a new third paragraph: “The Member States whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to be activated if indispensable to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of any required financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality.” 
The process of approval of this decision by the member states in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements as prescribed by article 48(6) has been completed and the amendment has entered into force on 1 May 2013.

Negotiation
V.1
What political/legal difficulties did Lithuania encounter in the negotiation of the amendment of article 136 TFEU?

No difficulties were publicly reported. I requested the Ministry of Finance to provide information on the issues concerning negotiations of the eurocrisis instruments under the Law on the Right to Obtain Information from State and Municipal Institutions. The Ministry replied via email on 7 September 2015. In its reply to this particular question the Ministry of Finance indicated the following: ‘Lithuania was not an eager supporter of the amendment, however, for the sake of compromise and in the interest of EU financial stability Lithuania did not object to a partial amendment of article 136 TFEU, which would include a provision enabling establishment of the stability mechanism, and would be based on strict conditionality. Lithuania’s primary interest was transparency of further consultations on the permanent mechanism of crisis management, which would be held in cooperation with all EU Member States and their national parliaments.’[1]

Approval
V.2
How has the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment been approved in Lithuania and on what legal basis/argumentation?

The amendment was approved on 12 June 2012 by the Seimas adopting a Law ratifying the amendment of Art. 136 TFEU with regard to a stability mechanism for Member States whose currency is the euro, made by the decision no. 2011/199 of the European Council.[2]

The explanatory memorandum of the Law[3] argued that it was an important measure facilitating the creation of a permanent crisis management mechanism, which would be used when the need would arise to safeguard the financial stability of the eurozone as a whole. The amendment was presented as a clear legal ground to establish the ESM, which would be created by the agreement of the Member States. It further emphasized that the new provision reflects the ability to create the ESM to the eurozone Member States without suggesting that in the absence of such a provision of the TFEU it would not be permissible to establish the ESM. It further emphasized that although it was the primary duty of the eurozone Member States to solve their fiscal problems, and that the ESM would not apply to the States which are not party to the eurozone, it was in the interest of all EU Member States to ensure stability of the eurozone. These arguments were reiterated during the discussions before ratification.  

The question of legal basis to ratify the treaty did not raise any public discussions. It was presented as a technical issue and was accepted as such without further consideration. It was agreed that the ratified document is an amendment of the TFEU, despite the fact that the amendment itself was made by a decision of the European Council.

The technical issue of whether it was a treaty or a European Council decision which needed to be ratified was raised by the Parliament’s legal department:[4] the draft of the ratification law referred to the decision of the European Council of the European Union. It was agreed that even though the amendment of the TFEU was made by a European Council decision, the amendment was still a treaty amendment, therefore the document to be ratified was the TFEU, not the decision of the European Council.

Approval difficulties        
V.3
What political/legal difficulties did Lithuania encounter during the approval of the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment?

No difficulites were encountered. During the discussions no serious argument against ratification of this Law was voiced. In support of ratification Kęstutis Glaveckas, a chairman of the Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee, argued that ratification of the Law would show solidarity with the eurozone Member States, whereas failure to ratify would destroy everything that Lithuania sought to achieve during the past eight years.[5]

The Minister of Foreign Affairs A.Ažubalis argued that failure to ratify would mean that [Lithuanian Seimas] creates a hurdle to stabilization of the vulnerable situation in the financial markets and does it without clear reasons.[6] P.Auštrevičius noted the potential benefit to Lithuania to have resort to the fund in the future in case of need.[7]

Members of the political group Order and Justice Julius Veselka and Egidijus Klumbys argued against ratification on the ground that the document was irrelevant to Lithuania which was not yet a member of the eurozone. E. Klumbys added that ratification of this law contradicted the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The amendment was ratified with 81 votes for, 0 against and 8 abstentions.

Case law        
V.4
Is there a (constitutional) court judgment in Lithuania on the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment?

No.

Miscellaneous
V.5
What other information is relevant with regard to Lithuania and the 136 TFEU Treaty amendment?

The Law ratifying an amendment of Art. 136 of the TFEU was subsequently amended on 23 January 2014. The need for an amendment arose because the ratifying Law used the term ‘euro’ with a Lithuanian ending, and was written in the following way: ‘euras (euro)’. This did not comply with the formal EU requirements that the name of the common currency should be identical in its nominative singular use. The government proposed this amendment in view of the planned entry to the eurozone the year after so that the European Central Bank would not have a ground to criticize Lithuania in its opinion.[8] On 23 January 2014 the amendment was approved by Seimas with a vote of 102 in favour, one against and one abstention.

 

 

 

[1] A. Jonušas, „Fw: Dėl informacijos pateikimo“ Message to Loreta Šaltinytė“, 7 September 2015. Email in Lithuanian. Translated by L. Šaltinytė.

[2]  LR įstatymo dėl Sutarties dėl Europos Sąjungos veikimo 136 straipsnio, kiek tai susiję su stabilumo mechanizmu, taikytinu valstybėms narėms, kurių valiuta yra euras (euro), pakeitimo, priimto 2011 m. kovo 25 d. Europos Vadovų tarybos sprendimu 2011/199/ES, ratifikavimo [The Law on ratification of the amendment of Art. 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union with regard to a stability mechanism for Member States whose currency is the euro], 2012-06-12 Nr. XI-2058; Pakeitimo įstatymas, 2014-01-23 Nr. XII-763. An official translation in English is available at https://e-seimas.lrs.lt/portal/legalAct/lt/TAD/a6e453d08d9211e39e3c992f044525a9?jfwid=cxhrnxzkm, [last accessed on 23 November 2015].

[3] Užsienio reikalų ministerija, Lietuvos Respublikos įstatymo Dėl 2011 m. kovo 25 d. Europos Vadovų Tarybos sprendimo 2011/199/ES, kuriuo iš dalies keičiamas Sutarties dėl Europos Sąjungos veikimo 136 straipsnis, kiek tai susiję su stabilumo mechanizmu, taikytinu valstybėms narėms, kurių valiuta yra euras, ratifikavimo Projekto nr. XIP-3638, Aiškinamasis raštas [Explanatory memorandum on draft Law no. XIP-3638], 2011-09-26.

[4] LR Seimo kanceliarijos teisės departamentas, Išvada dėl Lietuvos Respublikos įstatymo „Dėl 2011 m. kovo 25 d. Europos Vadovų Tarybos sprendimo 2011/199/ES, kuriuo iš dalies keičiamas Sutarties dėl Europos Sąjungos veikimo 136 straipsnis, kiek tai susiję su stabilumo mechanizmu, taikytinu valstybėms narėms, kurių valiuta yra euras, ratifikavimo” projekto [Seimas’ Chancellery, Department of law, Conclusion on draft Law No. XIP-3638, 10 October 2011].

[5] Seimo rytinio posėdžio stenograma. 2012-06-12 [Transcript of Seimas’ 12 June 2012 morning session].

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Įstatymo „Dėl Sutarties dėl Europos Sąjungos veikimo 136 straipsnio, kiek tai susiję su stabilumo mechanizmu, taikytinu valstybėms narėms, kurių valiuta yra euras (euro), pakeitimo, priimto 2011 m. kovo 25 d. Europos Vadovų Tarybos sprendimu 2011/199/ES, ratifikavimo” pakeitimo įstatymo projekto aiškinamasis raštas [Explanatory memorandum of the Law on ratification of Art. 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union with regard to the Stability mechanism for Member States whose currency is the euro] XIIP-1344.