1.7 Significance of transnational and trans-border aspectsSpeaking about the impact of neighbouring countries on the planning system of Lithuania, it is necessary to draw our attention to several questions:
a) What European countries' impact does Lithuanian planning culture react to?Having regained the independence, the whole Lithuania looked with great interest in one direction - to the West. Lithuanian society ascribed itself the role of a student, while the role of a teacher - to the West European countries. Actions taken by the near-by countries of the former soviet bloc at the beginning of independence did not seem instructive, but they were neighbouring countries which it was necessary to merchandize with, as well as to co-ordinate some actions (e.g. co-ordinate actions concerning border territories).
b) What is the role ascribed to neighbouring countries?
c) How do various layers of society react to neighbouring countries?
d) What is the dynamics of that reaction?
European countries have produced a considerable impact on the planning system of Lithuania. If it had not been for the example of the developed countries, Lithuania would not have had its own planning system for quite a long period in general. The planning law of European countries (mostly in Finland) is attempted to assume the ground in writing the Law on Territorial Planning of Lithuania. Planning practice of European countries influenced the said Law to a considerably great extent - the principle of the participation of the public in the process of territorial planning was incorporated in the Law on Territorial Planning of Lithuania and has recently been applied to it (more or less effectively). The concept of sustainable development was integrated into the planning system of Lithuania by the European counties. They also influenced the appearance of the analytical component of the impact of the plan solutions on the environment as well as the corresponding regulations.
In accordance with the regulations of the European Union, Lithuania performs separate concrete actions, e.g. develops "Natura 2000" territories. Inclusion of the old town into the list of territories under UNESCO's protection became a real "headache" for the local authorities, enthusiasts protecting cultural heritage of city, and the like.
Lithuania's membership in EU has created opportunities for an intensive international exchange of experience on planning, as well as for the studies of its own system.
The State's attitude towards neighbouring countries is currently being changed. The level of self-awareness and self-reliance of the State society is increasing. There are signs indicating that in increasing the said level, the attitude towards international community falls apart: the highest governing institutions react to neighbouring countries in one way, municipalities (or even most of the society) - in another. The position of the highest layers of authority remains the same, more than that Lithuania's membership in EU is obliged to regard its decisions. The role the old European countries play of a model for municipalities has been faded to some extent. There is a strong assumption that Lithuanian politics and specialists have acquired enough competence in self-organising issues. One is likely to arrive at this conclusion because it is not new anymore to hear the distrust of the EU provisions at this level in the spheres of environment, cultural heritage protection and social policy.
Municipalities, planners and architects of foreign countries are considered to be a model for Lithuanians, if their concept and actions coincide with that of the Lithuanian. Model retrieval does not have only one geographical direction - models are selected.