Latvia’s core priority in 2017 will be the protection of its interests in Brexit negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom. It is in Latvia’s interests to maintain a close economic and political relationship between the EU and the UK and to ensure legal certainty for Latvian nationals already residing in the UK that their status will not change, and their acquired social security rights and the right to health care will be preserved.
Next year will see a continued reflection process on the future of the EU. In this debate Latvia will argue in favour of the need for seeking a common platform for further work. Latvia’s interests lie in a politically and economically united EU, and the promotion of socio-economic development and growth, as well as security.
The promotion of stability and development in the EU’s eastern and southern neighbourhood is a priority for Latvia. Active work will continue on the implementation of a Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy. Latvia supports closer cooperation between EU Member States in the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy. Latvia’s main interests lie in fostering a more active EU’s involvement in the strengthening of resilience, cyber security and strategic communication capabilities of the EU Member States and the Eastern Partnership countries. It is also vital to bolster EU security and defence capabilities.
Latvia will continue to support measures to combat terrorism. Latvia will constructively contribute to work on the Firearms Directive and the revision of the Directive on the Prevention of Money Laundering. Important issues for Latvia are the interoperability of information systems and strengthening cooperation among the Member States’ law enforcement authorities and security institutions.
For Latvia the priority is to continue working on measures to strengthen and ensure effective control of the EU’s external borders. Full operational capacity of the newly-established European Border and Coast Guard will have to be ensured.
In the field of migration, it is important to continue implementation of decisions already taken, the work on the compacts with the priority countries of origin and transit and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement. In the context of the reform of the Common European Asylum System, it is essential for Latvia that the asylum procedure is rendered more efficient and simple and that any mechanisms for relocation of asylum seekers in the EU or their resettlement from third countries are based on a voluntary participation.
2. Socio-economic development
Strengthening of the Single Market and enhancement of its four fundamental freedoms will be a matter of priority. In particular, we will foster work on initiatives aimed at improving the functioning of the goods and services sectors as well as promoting cross-border business and making it easier. Latvia will actively contribute to discussions on an appropriate application of the mutual recognition principle and will follow up on various initiatives, including the European Services Card, the Single Market Information Tool, and proposals on contracts for supply of digital content and for distance sales of goods.
It is important for Latvia that the EU’s fundamental freedoms are fairly applied to all Member States thereby offering equal opportunities to all EU citizens to benefit from the advantages of the Single Market. We will continue stressing the need for adherence to current agreements and requirements in the fight against various types of fraud, including in the field of social policy and employment.
Digital Single Market
In the work to fully abolish roaming charges in mobile communications services, Latvia will continue advocating solutions that ensure balance between the interests of consumers and businesses.
In 2017, as the Audiovisual Media Services Directive is being reviewed, it will be essential to achieve a common understanding of the Member States concerning fair application of the jurisdiction/country of origin criteria that would not only ensure a functional mechanism for the registration and licensing of the audiovisual media services but also make it possible to fight against “letterbox companies”. It is important for Latvia that the proposal includes provisions which would enable an immediate restriction of broadcasting from other EU Member States in cases when serious threat to national security is detected.
Latvia will ensure the protection of its interests when considering proposals for reform in the telecommunications sector, in order to achieve solutions appropriate for Latvia’s conditions. Latvia will support ambitious implementation of the eGovernment Action Plan. Latvia will support the removal of restrictions based on geographic location in order to ensure legal certainty and facilitate cross-border trade and equal access to goods and services online in the EU Single Market.
Energy Union and climate policy
In relation to the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework proposals, it will be important to work towards a fair and equitable effort-sharing between the EU Member States so that the transition to low-carbon economy would follow the principles of cost-effectiveness, fairness and solidarity, consider the specific conditions and circumstances of the countries and stimulate economic growth. It is essential for Latvia that work continues on the governance of the Energy Union and the implementation of the Energy Security Package.
Multiannual Financial Framework
In 2017, the European Commission is expected to present a proposal for the EU Multiannual Financial Framework after 2020. Latvia will advocate that focus in the next MFF remains on the EU’s internal development and convergence.
Work must continue to combat tax evasion and aggressive tax planning in the EU and at global level. Latvia will support proposals aimed at improving effectiveness in the functioning of the VAT system.
Latvia is in favour of the signing of ambitious trade agreements with international partners whilst ensuring the protection of Latvia’s interests. Work must continue on the modernisation of trade protection instruments so as to achieve a balanced outcome that takes into account the interests of producers and users alike. Closer economic cooperation should be developed with China, and trade relations further pursued with the Eastern Partnership countries.
Completing the Economic and Monetary Union and the Banking Union
The completion of the Banking Union, including a gradual establishment of a European Deposit Insurance Scheme, will be Latvia’s priority. We shall evaluate and actively discuss proposals for completing the Economic and Monetary Union to be set out in the White Paper on the Future of Europe that the European Commission will present in spring 2017. It is important for Latvia that the deepening of the EMU leads to its sustainability and ensures opportunities for Latvia’s economic convergence with the Eurozone average.