On 12 and 13 June 2018, during the plenary session of the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, met with representatives from the EP Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, to discuss EU-related issues and stress the need for the EU to keep strategic communication topics high on its agenda, including retaining resilience to disinformation.
The Parliamentary Secretary underlined in a meeting with members of the European Parliament: “Strengthening strategic communications and countering disinformation calls for sufficient resources.”
In a meeting with Anna Fotyga, Chair of the Sub-Committee on Security and Defence, the parties were unanimous that the role of the EP as an important platform for strategic communications issues should be strengthened. The Chair of the Security and Defence Sub-Committee highly appreciated Latvia’s expertise and contribution to this field. Anna Fotyga informed the Parliamentary Secretary about her plans to prepare a new report on EU strategic communications by the end of the year in order to facilitate counteracting the propaganda of third countries against the EU.
The issues of strategic communications and the fight against disinformation were also discussed with Sandra Kalniete, member of the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs. Views were then shared on how to best protect Latvia’s interests in talks on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework. Special attention was paid to the future of external action financing instruments.
The issue of sufficient funding for strategic communications was also raised during a conversation with Jean Arthuis, Chair of the Committee on Budgets, on the EU’s budget for 2019. The Parliamentary Secretary also called for sufficient funds to be allocated in the next year’s budget for the work of the East StratComTask Force.
Referring to the timetable for the approval of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework, Jean Arthuis underlined that there was no unanimity among MEPs on whether an agreement on the EU MFF for 2021-2027 could be achieved before the elections to the EP in May 2019.
The Chair of the Budgets Committee was also interested in Latvia’s position on the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined that “convergence in the level of socio-economic development should be ensured among the Member States. One of the main issues currently under discussion concerns the European Commission’s proposal to change criteria and the formula for calculating the amount of Cohesion Policy funding available to the Member States during 2021-2027”.
The Parliamentary Secretary continued her visit to meet with Henna Virkkunen, an EP rapporteur on the Connecting Europe Facility – CEF. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica informed Henna Virkkunen about Latvia’s interests to ensure sufficient allocations under the CEF for the Rail Baltica project and building of energy interconnections. EU funding also during the next MFF period is critical for the successful completion of Rail Baltica by 2026.
In discussions on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework, a major focus was placed on support for Horizon Europe, a research and innovation programme. The Parliamentary Secretary underscored the need for an inclusive approach to financing under Horizon Europe, which would be fostered by a requirement to engage, in EU-scale research projects, with researchers and institutions from the small EU Member States and cohesion regions.
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