On 16 May 2019, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, took part in the meeting of the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council (Development).
The Council focused on the implementation of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, or 2030 Agenda, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The UN High-level Political Forum during the UN General Assembly this autumn is to review the overall progress made by states and international organisations in the implementation of the goals set in the 2030 Agenda. The discussion at the Foreign Affairs Council was aimed at sharing opinions on how to reinforce the EU’s leading role in the achievement of sustainable development goals and ensure the effectiveness of results.
In her address to her counterparts, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica noted: “Latvia strongly supports common efforts to strengthen the leading role of the EU in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) both internally, in the EU, and externally, by providing support for partner countries. During the informal European Council meeting in Sibiu last week, Latvia joined the initiative of a group of EU Member States calling on the EU to implement a much more ambitious strategy for the fight against climate change in order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Latvia agrees that climate change is one of the biggest challenges to sustainability; therefore, it is important that we should cooperate and act together.”
The United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, had been invited to join a discussion on the role of young people as key actors in realising the goals of the 2030 Agenda. The participants spoke about opportunities for and challenges to full engagement of youth for achieving the sustainable development goals, given that young people are the part of society that will be directly affected in the future by issues such as climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, and conflict prevention. Latvia, too, in its development cooperation policy devotes keen attention to empowering young people, especially through education, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica underlined.
The Member States were also briefed about and exchanged views on recent developments in negotiations on the architecture for financing EU external actions as set out in the proposal on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027. The Parliamentary Secretary once again highlighted Latvia’s interests, underlining that Latvia stands up for maintaining a separate the European Neighbourhood instrument (ENI), with appropriate funding ensured for it after 2020. Not only will a separate ENI send a strong message to the partners about EU political priorities; it will also ensure that attention is sustained towards the neighbourhood region as a priority in the implementation of EU policies.
At this stage, Latvia cannot support the inclusion of the European Development Fund in the EU budget either, as it might potentially have negative effects on other categories of the multiannual budget that are of a priority nature for Latvia. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica reiterated the need to continue seeking solutions so that all Member States, including Latvia, as well as civil society organizations, local authorities and the private sector could participate the implementation of the EU’s instruments for external action.
More than 104 billion euros have been proposed to channel into EU external action instruments or almost one tenth of the overall amount of EU Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027.
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