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 Multiannual Financial Framework after 2020.
In a conversation with MEPs Jan Olbrycht and Isabelle Thomas, who are in charge of formulating the EP position in negotiations with the Council of the EU on the EU’s financial framework for the next seven-year period, the timetable for the review of the issue was discussed. For the EU budget to be approved, consensus of all EU Member States and support at the European Parliament are required.
“Latvia expects a timely agreement on the EU budget, since that will mean and interrupted flow of investments into projects and activities implemented at the national and regional level,” Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica said. “In this respect we are on the same page with the European Parliament, which also seeks to reach an agreement before of the European Parliament election next May.”
MEP Jan Olbrycht informed the Parliamentary Secretary about the active work currently underway on the formulation of the EP position and the vote planned at the Committee on Budgets in October. On 14 October, MEPs are expected to vote at the plenary to adopt the position. That will enable the Parliament to open negotiations with the Council, which represents the Member State governments, as early as in November. Reaching a timely agreement on the EU’s new Multiannual Financial Framework requires intensive effort and great political will, underlined the MEP.
In a conversation with Isabelle Thomas, the Parliamentary Secretary expressed hope that it would be possible, together with the EP, to achieve an adequate total multiannual budget, including sufficient financing for the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy. Both Isabelle Thomas and Jan Olbrycht affirmed that they would strongly advocate for the financing to the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy to be kept at least at current levels.
In a meeting with Iskra Mihaylova, Chair of the Committee on Regional Development, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined the need for ensuring sufficient funds to underpin the post-2020 Cohesion Policy: “The EU budget should envisage sufficient support for the convergence of socio-economic development levels among EU Member States also after 2020. Therefore, we find unacceptable the European Commission’s proposal on a 13 % reduction in the Cohesion Policy, namely, regional development funding to Latvia as compared to the EU MFF for the current period.”
As part of her visit, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica also met with Pavel Telička, one of the rapporteurs on the Connecting Europe Facility, which provides funding for the Rail Baltica project. The Parliamentary Secretary stressed that sufficient funds should be allocated in the next Multiannual Financial Framework to support the implementation of Rail Baltica. The officials were unanimous that the construction of Rail Baltica lies in the interests of not only Latvia but also the EU as a whole.
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