On the 21st of November, the European Policy Centre organised its traditional Breakfast Policy Briefing before the holding of a new Member State Presidency in the European Council. Following on from Italy- from the 1st of January, 2015, Latvia will hold the Presidential rudders as the EU flagship until the 1st of July, 2015, steering the course of the European Union. It also marks an important exam for Latvia, because it will be the first time, since its accession to the EU in 2004, it has taken up the Presidential reins. This will also be practically the first Presidency, after elections of the new EU Parliament and Commission with which they will cooperate for next six months.
The main Brussels responsibilities for this time will be in the hands of Ms. Ilze Juhansone, as an Ambassador and Head of the Permanent Representative of Latvia to the EU. She was the main speaker at the event. She had made a statement to clarify the plans of the Latvian Presidency.
As Ms. Juhansone stated, the Latvian Presidency has already announced that it will concentrate on three broad areas, aiming towards a competitive, digital, and engaged Europe.
[Tweet "The Presidency would like to focus on a more competitive Europe"]Latvians are planning to deal with a number of dossiers, including the need to foster investments and economic reforms; revision of the Europe 2020 strategy; the creation of a digital single market; developing transatlantic relationships via the TTIP, neighbourhood policy, especially in terms of the Eastern Partnership; and issues related to migration and security policy.
The Ambassador underlined that due to the actual economic situation, the Presidency would like to focus on a more competitive Europe, although it would define exact projects to be realised. In terms of the economy, the EU needs a strong, single market therefore, the Presidency will probably not complete work on administrative barriers, but would like to come up with good solutions for industry. As an Energy Union has become one of the priorities of the President of the European Commission, Mr. Junckers, Latvians wish to start strong work on the Union’s possible structure. In their perspective, the most important factors to consider would be improvements in energy infrastructure, energy security, and fulfilling the wishes of Baltic States to set up a stronger agenda for their region, in terms of energy.
Due to the actual political situation, one of the priorities for the Presidency would be to encourage deeper monetary union, using relevant tools. Also, new technologies and especially a Digital Agenda, in terms of both cyber security and a well-prepared, comprehensive, E-government action plan.
[Tweet " the Presidency wants to concentrate on existing projects"]After presentation of Latvia’s priorities, CEEP asked Ms. Juhansone about energy infrastructure in terms of the North-South Corridor and the newly-published CEEP and Atlantic Council report ‘Completing Europe – from the North-South Corridor to Energy, Transportation and Telecommunications Union’. Ms. Juhansone has already confirmed that implementing a priority list of PCI’s, and moving forward strongly towards their completion, will be of major interest in the next few months. A new investment package will be taken into consideration, but the Presidency wants to concentrate on existing projects, as well as the new list planned for 2015, and feels it is imperative to finish off existing plans. The Ambassador admitted though, that we have to think more regionally, and from an Energy Union point of view.
It’s worth mentioning that to cope with all these stated priorities, the Presidency has very ambitious plans to organise, in the six-month Presidential period, around 200 events at different levels in Latvia, and approximately 1,500 meetings to be held in Brussels and Luxembourg.
The Presidency of Latvia will host the Eastern Partnership Summit, the Fifth Meeting of the Ministers of Education of the ASEM countries, and the Conference of European Standardisation.