On 28 January 2020, the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, met with Johannes Hahn, the European Commission’s (EC) Commissioner for Budget and Administration, to have a discussion on the proposals for the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027.
Edgars Rinkēvičs presented to the new Commissioner for Budget and Administration Latvia’s position concerning the next long-term EU budget, especially the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy.
The Latvian Foreign Minister noted that although Latvia will still receive more from the EU multiannual budget for the next period than it is contributing, it is important for Latvia that cohesion policy funding would not be reduced to a greater extent than the budgetary gap caused by Brexit. It is in our interests, the Minister said, to ensure cohesion funding that corresponds to the level of development of Latvia and to promote the convergence of agricultural direct payments as soon as possible while ensuring appropriate funding for rural development.
The Minister drew the Commissioner’s attention to Latvia still being a less developed region in the EU while the main objective of the Cohesion Policy remains the strengthening of socio-economic convergence, that is, reducing disparities in living standards between EU Member States. Just like the Cohesion Policy, the Common Agricultural Policy, too, is the largest source of public investments for Latvia to address climate change, which has been declared an overarching objective of the EU’s next multiannual budget.
The Cohesion Policy is currently not being focused on less developed regions. This clearly shows that the process is going in the wrong direction and counter to the logic of convergence, Edgars Rinkēvičs noted. Neither does the current proposal under the Common Agricultural Policy offer to bring up direct payments for the Baltic States’ farmers to the EU average. In light of this, the current European Commission’s proposal is unacceptable to Latvia, and, at the European Council in February, Latvia will not be able to support a multiannual budget framework as it is currently formulated, Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined.
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