On 26 May 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in the video conference of the European Union (EU) General Affairs Council.
At the meeting, the ministers discussed the response of the EU and its Member States to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Commission’s proposal for the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027 expected tomorrow, and the Roadmap for Recovery.
In the discussion, Edgars Rinkēvičs informed the ministers about the resumption of travel between the Baltic States and a contact tracing application developed in Latvia to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The Minister noted that EU Member States should gradually advance towards full functioning of the Schengen Area.
Speaking about the Multiannual Financial Framework and the Roadmap for Recovery, Edgars Rinkēvičs underlined the need for the countries to agree promptly on those instruments to enable EU support for economic recovery to begin as soon as possible. Edgars Rinkēvičs outlined the EU’s priorities that offer a new growth potential – the Green Deal and digitalisation – and he pointed out the importance of the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy in promoting economic growth and convergence.
The Minister stressed that the economic recovery instrument should be accessible for all Member States and support it provides should be based on an objective assessment of the economic situation.
The Minister expressed support for the European Commission’s efforts of producing the first annual report on the situation with the rule of law in the EU and the Member States. The Commission is expected to publish the report in September and it will be followed by consultations in Member States. The Minister also underlined that it was vital not to let the COVID-19 crisis to undermine fundamental rights, EU values and the rule of law.
The General Affairs Council meets once a month, and in the first half of 2020 it is chaired by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
On 27 May 2020, the European Commission will issue an amended proposal for the EU Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021–2027 in view of challenges caused by COVID-19 and a proposal for the new Roadmap for Recovery, which makes it possible to mobilise additional EU funding for the stimulation of Member State economies in the coming years.
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