Latvia has its debut in EU presidency semester

After Christmas time and the beginning of the new year , Latvia is ready for its semester as EU Presidency. For the first time, the small Baltic country (2 million people) that entered in the EU in 2004, will head our Continent.

Photo Reuters

A “competitive Europe”, a “digital Europe”, an “engaged Europe” are the Latvia’s top priorities for the next six months. Latvia will focus on the energy union, the climate change, and the investment package. Given the upcoming elections in many important European countries the Latvia’s task won’t be easy. Two crucial electoral appointments: in Greece at the end of January and in UK in May. In the meantime the Eurosceptics are growing and Ukraine situation is still unsettled.

Investments package, Digital Agenda, Employment

During the Latvian semester, the EU Leaders and the European Parliament should agree on the 315 investment billions plan by June 2015. In July it should be implemented.

In the coming months, the Commission will also present a proposal for a Single Digital Market package, for a more ambitious telecoms reform. Copyright modernisation, consumer rules for online and digital purchases and cyber-security are on the agenda. The EU leaders want the European digital market completed in 2015, but the Council has yet to adopt a position on amendments to the telecoms package. Latvia will head the Council on that phase. Regarding the efforts to boost the economic growth, the Eu is trying to promote co-operation to reduce the grey economy. A Establishment of a European platform to enhance cooperation in the prevention and deterrence of undeclared work should be approved by the competent committee in the Parliament by the end of February. A regulation of EURES, European network of employment services, to enhance access of workers to intra-EU labour mobility support services, is on the Latvia’s agenda.

TTIP and Eastern Partnership

Currently many legislative dossiers are under negotiation between the Council and the Parliament , in December have been calculated around 30 dossiers. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is one of the most well known. Next to the TTIP Edagars Rinkēvičs, Foreign affairs Minister, wants to create an energy cooperation between USA and EU as well. US as a supplier would contribute to EU energy independence and diversification of supply sources. Regarding the relationship with the USA, Latvia will focus on a partenership for the cyber security. In 2015, a free trade agreement between EU and Japan should also be concluded. The Japanase Premier, Shinzo Abe, wants to get it signed before the end of this year.

On the security side, there will be a review on the progress on mesaures related to maritime security, international missions, cyber defence and defence industry standards.

Latvia will host an EU summit with six of the EU’s eastern neighbours on 21-22 May. The European Union wants to develop “roadmaps” for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to continue on the path of reforms . Recently the foreign minister Edagars Rinkēvičs, said that there won’t be a political strategy against Russia or in favour of Russia. The decisions will be taken from all the member states.

Energy Policy and Climate Change

During its mandate, Latvia will try to make a more effective energy union and develop and push forward the implementation of the energy security strategy. The Baltic country will also lead the EU towards the Paris climate change summit. Negotiations on the transition to biofuels will also be taken under the Latvia’s Presidency as well. Not an easy semester.

@IreneGiuntella

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