On 9 March in Sofia, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, took part in a conference on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework after 2020 organised by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The aim of the conference was to facilitate the sharing of views ahead of the publication of the European Commission’s opinion on the post-2020 financial framework.
In her intervention, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica drew attention to three main elements in the upcoming talks on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework – the priorities and amount of the next MFF, and its timeline.
“Investments from the EU Structural Funds, i.e., Cohesion Policy, is a major driver of job creation, sustainable growth and innovation. Therefore, it is vital to provide sufficient resources for the post-2020 Cohesion Policy. The socio-economic convergence of European regions is the original political vision behind the Cohesion policy created to underpin implementation of the Single Market and later also the Single Currency. The strengthening of the Single Market through Cohesion Policy benefits to all Member States and regions,” said the Parliamentary Secretary.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined that Latvia strongly advocates the EU’s Cohesion Policy support for countries and regions with a high long-term loss of economically active population. “Depopulation puts a strain on public finances and narrows the possibilities for productive domestic investments thus leading to lower future economic potential.”
In her remarks Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica also focused on the Common Agricultural Policy. Latvia supports modernisation of the CAP. In future, resources will also be needed for both direct payments and rural development. An aspect of the CAP that should certainly be reformed is the distortion of competition due to uneven level of direct payments for farmers in different EU Member States, said the Parliamentary Secretary. By 2020 Latvian farmers will receive merely 68% of the EU average level of direct payments.
Referring to other priorities, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica expressed support for a greater emphasis on programmes such as Horizon 2020, Erasmus+ and the Connecting Europe Facility. Socio-economic convergence is further strengthened by education, research, innovations and connecting of European infrastructure. Consequently, these programmes should also be reinforced after 2020.
Latvia’s position was also outlined in the context of the new EU priorities: it is of outmost importance that the forthcoming European Defence Industrial Development Programme should be fair and benefit not only big defence industry players. The programme should also involve small and medium enterprises, as well as start-ups. To finance programmes that are to drive the EU’s development, we cannot reduce the amount of the Multiannual Financial Framework, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica said. She added that Latvia was prepared to contribute more to the EU budget and, together with other Member States, fill the Brexit gap.
The Parliamentary Secretary also stressed that it was in the common interests of all parties involved in negotiations to have a timely agreement on the next MFF. This in turn would make it possible to start timely programming and implementation of the new projects. EU Member States should be able to agree on the new budget in due time so as to ensure a smooth transition to the next cycle and launch projects already as from 1 January 2021. As proven by our past experience, delay leads to a significant decrease in investments thereby holding back economic growth, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica recalled.
The conference in Sofia on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework is the last high-level conference before the Commission’s proposal for the EU’s post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, the publication of which is expected on 2 May.
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