Imants Lieģis, Chairman of the European Affairs Committee, believes that Latvia, which will be the European Union’s presiding country in 2015, should define in due time the EU policy priorities on which it will focus.
The Chairman of the Committee urges politicians, diplomats and experts to begin as soon as possible a broad discussion on the priorities for Latvia’s six-month presidency. Lieģis stresses that the year 2015 is not that far away and that the Committee meeting on 17 February, at which MPs were informed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on preparations for Latvia’s presidency, revealed that much still has to be done.
“The first half of 2015, when Latvia will be in charge of the work of the European Union, will be a splendid opportunity to draw the attention of other EU member states to issues that are particularly significant for our country. Therefore, we have to begin as soon as possible a high-quality discussion on what the priorities of Latvia’s presidency will be, what we want to tell Europe, and what kind of policy we will propose. Lieģis emphasises that we also have to take into account the fact that during its presidency, Latvia will cooperate with Italy and Luxembourg.”
The Chairman reminded that during its presidency, each EU member state highlights an issue that is vital to it; for example, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region was adopted during the Swedish presidency, and the initiative of the Union for the Mediterranean was launched under the French presidency.
“Equally important is the matter of human resources because during these six months, Latvian representatives in both Riga and Brussels will have to chair 188 working groups consisting of representatives from all EU member states. Therefore, there will be a need for Latvian civil servants who are proficient in English and French and who have professional expertise,” indicates Lieģis. The Chairman suggests involving in the work of presidency Latvian citizens who are employed by EU institutions, other international organisations and large international enterprises.
The EU presidency is a unique opportunity to familiarise others with our culture and the most significant tourism sites because during the six-month presidency, several thousands of representatives from various EU member states and EU institutions will visit Latvia and participate in numerous working groups, Lieģis pointed out. The Chairman welcomed the decision recently adopted by the government to hold the main events at the new Latvian National Library in Riga and to hold various lower-level meetings of experts in other Latvian cities and towns.
Saeima Press Service