On 21 June 2022, the Minister of Foreign Minister of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the meeting of the European Union’s General Affairs Council, at which EU Member States discussed a draft regulation on transparency and targeting of political advertising, and preparations for the upcoming European Council of 23 and 24 June. The Ministers also held an exchange of views on the way forward as regards the proposals of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
At the meeting, Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed support for the European Council meeting, while pointing out the need for the Council to agree on Ukraine being granted the status of a candidate for membership in the EU. Latvia supports the European perspective for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as Moldova and Ukraine being given candidacy status to join the EU, the Foreign Minister said.
The upcoming European Council should send a clear signal to Ukraine and grant the country the status of candidate for EU membership, the Foreign Minister said. At present it is of equal importance not to delay any kind of assistance to Ukraine – be it financial, humanitarian, material or military – based on the needs identified by Ukraine. Edgars Rinkēvičs called for work to be launched on preparations for the seventh package of EU restrictive measures against Russia and Belarus. Successful implementation of current EU sanctions must also be ensured, the Foreign Minister noted.
The meeting held a discussion on the way forward concerning proposals prepared by the Conference on the Future of Europe. It was based on the analysis carried out by the General Secretariat of the Council so as to understand which proposals are already being implemented under the existing EU legislative initiatives, which could be realised in the near future without revising the EU Treaties, and which call for amendments to the EU Treaties.
The Latvian Foreign Minister stated that, in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe, work must begin, first of all, to put into practice the proposals that address challenges identified by citizens without making amendments to the EU Treaties, such as promoting security and Europe’s resilience, economic growth, energy independence, and people’s welfare.
Latvia calls for the strengthening of European values, addressing economic problems, including the reduction of inequality, fighting disinformation and violence against women, taking care of security, and being climate-accountable. Those and a number of other concrete proposals, which include easing a mutual recognition of higher education qualifications between EU Member States and closer cooperation in the health care sector, should be brought into focus in further work. We expect the evaluation of recommendations produced at the conference, including the national ones, to be also continued at the national level; and we believe that is vital to deliver concrete results that could be demonstrated to citizens not later than on 9 May 2023, a year after the conclusion of the Conference of the Future of Europe, Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined.
The Minister also drew attention to the fact that any discussions on amendments to the EU Treaties would divert attention and resources from the development of critical policies and undermine the EU’s unity.