On 5 November 2019, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, will take part in the Friends of Cohesion Summit 2019 in Prague, the Czech Republic. The aim of the event is to discuss the interests of the main recipients of the EU’s Cohesion Policy funding after 2020. A declaration is expected to be adopted on the common standpoint of the countries on the EU’s new Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary will be represented at the meeting at the level of prime ministers. Delegates from the Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Romania and Spain will also take part, and the event will be attended by representatives from the European Commission (EC).
The aim of the Cohesion Policy is the reduction of social and economic disparities between the EU regions. 4.9 billion euros worth of cohesion funding have been allocated to Latvia in the 2014–2020 budgetary period. These funds are used as investments in regional development, including the reconstruction of buildings, schools including elementary and secondary schools, hospitals, as well as for business development and in other areas.
Since joining the EU, thanks to EU structural funds, Latvia has gradually moved towards the EU average level of socio-economic development, reaching 70% of the EU average GDP per capita in 2018. After 2020, Latvia will still need cohesion funding to continue growth and convergence with the EU’s average socio-economic development level.
In accordance with the EC proposal for the EU’s post-2020 budget, the overall cohesion funding is being reduced by 10%, which means that Latvia will continue receiving support from the Cohesion Policy funds, but of a considerably lower amount. Therefore, Latvia, together with other like-minded countries, is insisting that comparatively more of the EU’s budgetary resources should be channelled into the Cohesion Policy. Intensive negotiations are underway among Member States on the amount of funding available through the Multiannual Financial Framework and its distribution. To ensure a continued flow of investments, the decision on the EU budget should be taken as soon as possible.