From 11 to 13 September 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 Members of the European Parliament to argue for issues of high importance to Latvia in the context of the EU’s post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework.
During her visit to the EP, special focus was placed on Latvia’s interests in the research development programme, Horizon Europe. The Parliamentary Secretary highlighted the fact that the European Commission had proposed to channel more than 80 billion euros towards the development of research and innovation under the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework, while the EP is expected to propose that this objective be supported by 120 billion euros during the period of 2021–2027. In view of this, involvement in research programmes can bring a substantial contribution to building research capacity in Latvia’s science sector and to the economic growth of the country.
To convey Latvia’s interests, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica met with Christian Ehler, a lead rapporteur for Horizon Europe and a long-standing expert on the programme. Christian Ehler is one of Europe’s political heavyweights behind the issue of the development of EU research. The conversation focused on what needs to be done towards further integration of the EU’s science space, including the promotion of the participation of Latvian scientists and researchers in the programme.
“Latvia has scientists who meet the criteria of excellence set by the EU; therefore, conditions should be created for a deeper involvement of Latvian researchers in projects funded by the Horizon Europe programme by removing the currently existing obstacles and hurdles,” Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined.
It was emphasised in the conversation that a prerequisite for the development of Latvia and the Baltic region is their ability to engage in the Horizon projects. The parties agreed that opportunities should be created for that, since the conditions during the current programming period had not been conducive enough for integrating the Baltic States in the EU’s research space.
MEP Ehler informed the Parliamentary Secretary about his proposal to offer special grants to researchers returning to the Baltic States and other Member States with a comparatively lower innovation capacity. The proposal has been submitted for inclusion in the EP report on the implementation of the Horizon programme after 2020.
On the issue of the EU’s Global Instrument, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica met with MEP Christian Dan Preda, responsible for preparing the EP position on those matters. The instrument is aimed at supporting the EU’s external action worldwide.
“It is vital to ensure the continuity and stability of the European Neighbourhood Policy; in view of that, we do not support the European Commission’s proposal to integrate it into the EU Global Instrument,” said the Parliamentary Secretary. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underscored the position consistently voiced by the Latvian Government on how important the European Neighbourhood Instrument is for EU external action. In the light of that, the parties discussed possible solutions for preventing this separately functioning programme, which ensures the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy, from being discontinued after 2020.
The European Neighbourhood Instrument seeks to support the process of political, economic and social reform in 16 countries of the EU’s Eastern and Southern neighbourhood. The European Neighbourhood Policy aims at strengthening welfare, stability, security, market economy, and sustainable growth. The EU’s cooperation with its eastern neighbours, including Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, are of special importance for Latvia.
In accordance with the European Commission’s proposal on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework published on 2 May, the number of EU external action instruments is to be reduced, joining them into one Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (Global Instrument) for the period of 2021–2027, which also includes the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI).
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