15 Jan 2015

Priorities of the Latvian EU Presidency

Latvia has taken over the presidency of the Council of the European Union by the beginning of this year. 
In the next semester, the most important tasks for the EU are to take step towards growth after the crisis and to overcome geopolitical challenges.

As the most important goals of the Latvian presidency, Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted the 'boosting of Europe's competitiveness by improving investment climate, delivering a borderless digital Europe and a strong energy union'. 

the European Commission in Riga

Latvia has summarized its priorities in three phrases: Competitive Europe, Digital Europe and Engaged Europe. 

Competitive Europe

In order to enhance competitiveness, Europe has to facilitate job creation and thus also promote social cohesion. It is possible to achieve through efficient structural reforms and growth-stimulating investment measures.
In order to achieve these aims, the main tasks which have to be completed are to continue to work on the single market, to enhance the competitiveness of industry by better regulation, launch discussion and start working on the Energy Union. 

Latvia was especially severely hit by the financial crisis, nevertheless, thanks to strict austerity measures it has overcome it so quickly that in 2014 euro could be introduced in the country. Therefore Latvia has some kind of authority in this aspect.

 Digital Europe

The main goals under this section are the advancement of data protection, progressing the work on the Telecommunications Market package and starting discussions on the Digital Single Market Strategy. 

In order to realize these goals, the Presidency plans to seek agreement on the General Data Protection Regualation and Directive; to implement the EU Cyber Security Strategy, finalise negotiations on the Network and Information Security Directive (NIS); to eliminate online borders, remove restrictions; find a balance between high-quality services and a reasonable cost for customers as well as to promote e-Government.

In Latvia, Internet coverage and speed are among the best of Europe. It can be explained by the fact that telecommunication infrastructure in the Baltic states was extremely underdeveloped in the beginning of the 1990s, and new technologies were implemented at once, skipping the older types of networks.

Engaged Europe

Engaged Europe means promoting Europe's role as a global player. It translates into the review of the Neighbourhood Policy, enhancing transatlantic partnership and focusing on post-2015 development goals. 

The Latvian Presidency emphasizes the importance of both the Eastern and the Southern relations, but plans to devote particular attention to the Eastern Partnership. The strengthening of transatlantic ties in practice involves concluding negotiation on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, as well as advancing trade agreements with Canada and Japan. Latvia will promote the creation of an EU-Central Asia policy in order to enhance discussions on security, border management, energy supply and educational exchange. The post-2015 goals will focus mainly on sustainable development. Security policy issues are also emphasized, such as threats posed by foreign fighters, migration and containing ebola. The enlargement will stay on the agenda as well. 

Notes on the 2015 EaP Summit in Riga

There is a kind of competition between the presiding eastern member states of the EU in the field of Eastern Partnership Policy. Almost each of them is aspiring to hold an Eastern Partnership Summit during its presidency and accomplish something important in the process of integration of Eastern neighbours. The Summit in Vilnius brought unexpected outcomes, giving an impetus the crisis in Ukraine that changed the political situation in Europe. This year, there will also be an EaP Summit in Riga, where the negotiations with Ukraine will have probably the most attention. 
Latvian minister of foreign affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs in June called for a review of the Eastern partnership and argued for an individual approach for EaP countries, taking their specific interests into account, having in mind the elaboration o cooperation mechanisms for countries not wishing to join the EU (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus). 
Preparing for the presidency, Latvia was planning to focus on the Central Asian region, as so far it has received less attention in the EU, but energy resources and geopolitical location assign it ever greater importance. However, the Latvian Presidency will most probably have to deal with the consequences of the crisis in Ukraine and the deteriorating relation between the EU and Russia. 

Gaismas pils/Castle of Light
photo: Evija Trifanove / LETA

The meetings held in Riga are taking place in the new building of the National Library (also called Gaismas pils - The Castle of Light), the construction of which was finished last year. 






No comments:

Post a Comment