On 18 June 2019, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the meeting of the European Union (EU) General Affairs Council, at which EU Member State representatives continued discussions on the progress in negotiations on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027. The Member State representatives also made preparations for the European Council meeting on 20–21 June and examined the Council conclusions on enlargement and the stabilisation and association process.
In a discussion on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027, the Latvian Foreign Minister stated the position that Latvia’s priorities in multiannual budget talks remained unchanged, namely, not to permit a significant reduction in the envelope for the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, to achieve convergence of direct payments in agriculture, to ensure sufficient funding for the Rail Baltica project, as well as ensuring access to programmes managed by the EU in a centralised manner, for instance, Horizon Europe.
“Latvia supports a timely agreement on the European Union’s Multiannual Financial Framework. At the same time, the content and quality of the new multiannual budget are more important than a specific time frame” Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined.
In an exchange of views on EU enlargement, Edgars Rinkēvičs noted that it was in the EU’s economic and security interests to move ahead with the enlargement policy by implementing a transparent EU integration process based on an individual approach and fulfilment of criteria.
“It is essential that the Council take a unified position on the further enlargement policy. In view of progress achieved as tasked by the Council in June 2018, Latvia supports the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. Reform progress and performance against criteria should be acknowledged accordingly with further steps towards integration with the European Union so as not to undermine reform motivation and the EU’s credibility,” said Edgars Rinkēvičs.
The Latvian Foreign Minister noted that all candidates and potential candidates should continue introducing reforms in the priority areas pointed out by the European Commission. Of special importance are the results concerning the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, with the entire process of EU integration depending on that. “The rule of law, media independence, freedom of expression, a uniform foreign policy, and good neighbourly relations form the foundation for the European Union values, which have to be respected in order to become an EU Member State,” Edgars Rinkēvičs said.
The meetings of the General Affairs Council are held on a monthly basis, and in the first half of 2019 they are chaired by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
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