On 13 April 2018, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the opening of the European Info Day, “European Vitamin”, and in a discussion on the operation of the European Union (EU) in financial and economic matters, as well as presenting Latvia’s priorities in the EU’s next multiannual budget. Krišjānis Kariņš, Member of the European Parliament, and Aija Zitcere, Director of the Financial Market Policy Department of the Ministry of Finance, also took part in the discussion.
In the discussion, the Parliamentary Secretary stated that Latvia had experienced significant growth since joining the EU, and to a large extent this was possible thanks to EU funding. Since joining the EU, more than 10 billion euros of EU budget funds have already been injected into Latvia’s “bloodstream”, which allowed the country to build additional development capacity. Investments of at least 5 billion will be made in the coming years from EU funding already allocated to Latvia.
The next round or already the formal negotiations of the European Union Member States on the EU multiannual budget for the years 2021-2028 will begin in May. The EC proposal will be about the EU budget and funding for EU policies starting from 1 January 2021, but will not cover the current 2014-2020 EU multiannual budget cycle and its planned projects and funding. Consultations on the next EU multiannual budget will also be a decisive factor on the future of the EU. Latvia believes that the EU budget must be ambitious in order to achieve all the goals set; therefore, Latvia has called on the Member States to increase their contributions to the overall multiannual budget. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica stated: “There are two elements that distinguish the upcoming talks from the previous negotiations on the EU multiannual budget – the negative impact of Brexit on the multiannual budget and the new priorities. Brexit means that one of the biggest net payers into the EU budget is leaving the EU. At the same time, new priorities are emerging – security, defence and the strengthening of external borders. An encouragement is also expected to significantly increase investment in boosting EU competitiveness, including by allocating more resources to science and innovation, digitalisation, and youth support programmes.”
The Parliamentary Secretary explained that the negotiations on the EU budget over the next seven years are not just a mathematical equation, but a complex task, where only through the right mix of activities, conclusions and intermediate results can we come to the right result, that is, the result that is in line with Latvia's interests.
“Cohesion policy and the Common Agricultural Policy are the major and most important policies contributing to socio-economic convergence among Member States. Latvia consistently emphasizes the need to ensure sufficient funding for these policies. We will continue intensive negotiations with the other Member States in order to reach the most appropriate and most favourable outcome for the interests of the Latvian people,” Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica emphasised.
Since 2016, the EU Info Day is held every spring. Its aim is to provide the most up-to-date information on EU issues in an interactive way and to promote the exchange of experience among EU information providers. This year the attention of the participants were focused on EU financial and economic matters, trends, risks and opportunities in the run-up to the European elections.
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