On Friday, 24 February, when approving Latvia’s national position for negotiations on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014 – 2020, members of the European Affairs Committee of the Saeima indicated that although the first – explanatory – phase of the EU’s new Multiannual Financial Framework negotiations has ended, Latvia will have to continue providing reasoned justification for its interests regarding Cohesion Policy funding and direct payments to farmers.
“Latvia’s position that was approved today during the Committee’s meeting continues to emphasise our request to maintain Cohesion Policy funding at the current level. However, with regard to direct payments provided by the Common Agricultural Policy emphasis is put on a customised solution for Latvia that would increase the amount of these payments,” explains Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee.
The Chairperson of the Committee emphasised that in the next round of negotiations, when the differences between national positions regarding the budget proposed by the European Commission will have to be minimised, Latvia will have to actively continue explaining its position at all EU policy levels.
“In further negotiations it will be crucial for us to persuade the so-called net contributors, namely, EU member states which contribute to the EU budget a greater amount of funds than they receive, that we need to receive increased amount of direct payments and maintain the existing level of cohesion funding. Therefore, understanding of Latvia’s position which was recently shown by French public officials can be regarded as a positive signal,” highlights Kalniņa-Lukaševica. The Chairperson of the Committee also noted with gratification that Latvia’s national position pays greater attention to research and innovations by clearly defining Latvia’s interests regarding the new framework programme Horizon 2020.
At the meeting, MPs were informed that the new national position contains a more precise request concerning the amount of direct payments, namely, Latvian farmers should receive direct payments in the amount of at least 80% of the EU average. The initial proposal of the European Commission, which was presented last summer, envisaged that Latvia would receive 54% of the average EU funding for agriculture and that was entirely unacceptable to our state.
The requested 80% of the EU average direct payments is a relatively small amount of funds in comparison to the total EU budget – provision of these resources would require only an additional EUR 2 billion. Thus, a request for a customised solution for Latvia would cause a less negative reaction from the EU’s net contributors, said Astra Kurme, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as she explained Latvia’s position to MPs. She indicated that Latvia plans to request a customised approach with regard to cohesion funding as well.
Saeima Press Service