On 14 May 2018, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs took part in the meetings of the European Union’s (EU) General Affairs Council and the General Affairs Council (Article 50) held in Brussels.
In a discussion on the European Commission’s (EC) proposal on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021 to 2027, Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined that the budget should unite the EU instead of dividing.
“An important mission of the Multiannual Financial Framework is to ensure convergence, that is, narrowing differences between EU Member States; to this end, sufficient funding under the cohesion policy and an increase in direct payments to Latvian farmers should be ensured. Regrettably, the current EC offer envisages reduced allocations for cohesion policy and too little increase in direct payments, which will not bring the required investments to public infrastructure and equal opportunities for farmers to compete in the European Single Market,” the Foreign Minister noted.
Edgars Rinkēvičs expressed satisfaction at the allocation of financing for military mobility and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), while calling for sufficient funding to be earmarked for the Rail Baltica project. “We welcome the plan to provide finance for military mobility and the Connecting Europe Facility. Nevertheless, the amount of funds is insufficient to fully implement Rail Baltica. I call on the European Commission to make appropriate adjustments when drafting the Connecting Europe Facility Regulation. I also invite the EC to come forth with a clear and comprehensible comparison between the current and the new multiannual budget package so that Member States could move ahead more rapidly in negotiations,” noted the Minister.
At the same time, Edgars Rinkēvičs praised the EU MFF proposal for reflecting agreements achieved to date on funding for security, defence, the strengthening of external borders, and migration. The discussions on the multiannual budget must not lead to division among the Member States. This should be prevented, urged the Minister.
Ahead of the sessions of the General Affairs Council, Edgars Rinkēvičs convened a meeting of the Nordic countries and the Baltic States, the Netherlands and Ireland to discuss the incoming Multiannual Financial Framework, the United Kingdom leaving the EU, and the rule of law issues.
The meetings of the General Affairs Council take place once a month and in the first half of 2018 are chaired by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The meetings of the General Affairs Council (Article 50), in the EU27 format, considers issues concerning the process of negotiations on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.
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