Latvia wants the European Union to shape a fair agricultural policy which would provide equal direct payments to Latvian farmers, who would then be able to compete in the common market with farmers from the so-called old EU member states on equal terms. This position was voiced by the delegation of the Saeima in Brussels during its meetings with Janusz Lewandowski, Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget; Georg Häusler, Head of the Cabinet of the Commissioner on Agriculture and Rural Development; and members of the European Parliament.
On 5 and 6 December, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee; Atis Lejiņš, Deputy Chairman of the Committee; and Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, Chairman of the Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee, visited Brussels.
“During the visit, we met with officials of the European Union and gained the conviction that Latvia’s position regarding the matter of direct payments to farmers, which is so significant for us, has been heard and that the European Commission and the European parliament have a clear understanding of Latvia’s position,” indicates Kalniņa-Lukaševica. “Therefore, it is essential for representatives of our government, diplomats and parliamentarians to continue explaining our reasons in order to successfully fight for a distribution of agricultural payments in the new Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU for 2014 – 2020 that will be favourable for Latvia,” says the Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee.
In Brussels, Kalniņa-Lukaševica emphasised that during negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy for the next programming period, Latvia’s goal is to have a fair EU policy which ensures equal competition for all farmers of the EU because currently Latvian farmers receive the lowest level of direct payments and thus are not on equal footing with the farmers of the so-called old EU member states.
Dombrovskis, Chairman of the Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee, highlighted that current direct payments have been calculated on the basis on agricultural activity in Latvia in the beginning of the 1990’s. For historical reasons, back then agricultural activity in Latvia was much lower than it is now, and thus the reference used in calculating direct payments does not reflect present reality, stressed Dombrovskis.
Deputy Chairman of the European Affairs Committee Lejiņš indicated that Latvia’s main goal is to ensure a fair system of direct payments to farmers. Even if the European Commission proposes to increase the direct payments, they still will be much smaller for Latvian farmers than for farmers in the so-called old EU member states, said Lejiņš.
During their visit to Brussels, leaders of the Saeima committees also met with Latvia’s representatives at the EU, namely, Sandra Kalniete, member of the European Parliament from Latvia, and Ilze Juhansone, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, permanent representative of the Republic of Latvia to the European Union; they discussed how to defend Latvia’s interests. Furthermore, MPs gave interviews on EU matters to the online newspaper EUobserver, as well as to Ina Strazdiņa, correspondent from Latvijas Radio to Brussels.
Saeima Press Service