Higgins told participants of a business breakfast in Vilnius that social and economic reforms are necessary to restore confidence.
"It is an exciting time. It is a challenging time in the European Union. Globally, the biggest challenge is in terms of those who are seeking to undermine the multilateral system. Every day we meet a new challenge," the president said, without mentioning any names.
"The conversation now is very interesting. It will not be able to be confined to the words of the most powerful, or the negativity of the most powerful. If we are to restore confidence in Europe and the European Union and offer what I call now a needs-based eco-social form of political economy," he said.
Higgins said that small countries like Lithuania and Ireland can set an example in restoring public confidence.
"It means that you, Lithuania, and we in Ireland we can bring satisfaction of the basic needs of society, highest levels of participation, the most intelligent forms of new innovation, the use of science and technology in ethical way. That is most likely to come from countries like Ireland and Lithuania, and it gives a huge boost when people believe in that."
The Irish president's remarks reflect Europe's growing concern about US President Donald Trump's foreign policy.