European Affairs Committee and NGOs agree on a cooperation mechanism for negotiations on EU cohesion funds and direct payments

(16.07.2012.)
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The European Affairs Committee of the Saeima and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will continue close cooperation and undertake specific measures to coordinate their positions in the decisive phase of negotiations on distributing European Union’s (EU) Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020, with special emphasis on cohesion funds and direct payments both of which have been defined as Latvia’s priority matters. This was the common agreement reached between the members of the European Affairs Committee and representatives of NGOs, who met on Friday, 13 July, in the Saeima.

“I am pleased with the outcome of today’s meeting held in the Saeima and the agreement we have reached on the common mechanism for intensifying our cooperation as a part of the negotiation process. We are currently in the final six-month period of the budget negotiations, and it is essential to lobby Latvia’s interests in a coordinated manner so that all of the involved parties – MPs, the government, diplomats and the non-governmental sector - defend a common position. The Saeima offers the most appropriate platform for coordinating activities between the parliament, government and NGOs, including negotiations on the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework, with special emphasis on Latvia’s priorities,” said Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Chairperson of the European Affairs Committee.

“Today’s meeting shows that it is possible for all the involved parties to come together and discuss the progress regarding the budget negotiations. This form of cooperation should definitely be continued,” said Atis Lejiņš, Deputy Chairman of the European Affairs Committee.

Members of the Committee agreed on four steps aimed at improving the coordination in forming Latvia’s single position regarding the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Chairperson of the Committee, proposed to have joint working group meetings in the Saeima, including representatives of relevant ministries, in order to discuss and agree on joint activities in voicing Latvia’s position. In autumn the European Affairs Committee will meet with NGOs once again to discuss the progress achieved and to plan further activities. Furthermore, in the second half of this year it is planned to hold a round-table discussion in the Saeima dedicated to Latvia’s priorities in the Multiannual Financial Framework negotiations, namely, cohesion funds and direct payments. Members of the Committee and representatives of NGOs also agreed on the need to elaborate a catalogue of Latvia’s interests which would summarise the current EU issues, including budget negotiations, and would be made available to NGOs.

During the meeting, several participants noted that the mass media constantly emphasise the need to equalise the direct payments, although from the point of view of Latvia’s economy, cohesion funds are equally important. So far Latvian farmers’ associations have done well in terms of explaining our national position not only in Brussels but also in various EU member states. However, Latvia’s position advocates not only equalisation of direct payments and swifter approximation to the EU’s average level but also maintaining cohesion funding at the current level. Therefore, it is equally important to focus on the cohesion funds because they play a vital role in implementing infrastructure projects – for instance, in the area of transport and improving overall standards of living.

Armands Krauze, representative of the European Economic and Social Committee, emphasised the role of Latvia’s NGOs and farmers’ associations in supplementing the Committee’s opinion on the Multiannual Financial Framework with arguments against reduction of cohesion funding in the next programming period and in favour of support for a swifter approximation of the direct payments to the EU’s average level. Armands Krauze also pointed out that the demonstrations in Latvia and Brussels should be viewed as just the tip of the iceberg and that the farmers’ associations are planning to discuss these issues not only with the Members of the European Parliament but also with representatives of farmers from other EU member states. So far representatives of Latvian farmer’s associations have visited their counterparts in Ireland, and a visit to France is currently being arranged.

Ariadna Ābeltiņa, representative of the European Economic and Social Committee, pointed out that if the European Parliament and the European Council took into account the Committee’s opinion stating that in the next programming period cohesion funding should not be reduced and direct payments should be equalised more swiftly in order to close the gap with the EU’s average, we could celebrate a victory; however, the Committee’s opinions are not binding and provide only recommendations.

Māris Kučinskis, Deputy Executive Director of the Association of Major Cities of Latvia, added that cohesion funds act as the driving force of development in Latvia’s cities and that successful absorption of the funds has already enabled many Latvia’s cities to transform themselves into better places.

Igors Pimenovs, Secretary of the European Affairs Committee, highlighted the role of the Saeima in voicing Latvia’s position in the budget negotiations. The Chairperson and members of the European Affairs Committee of the Saeima go on visits to Brussels and the capitals of EU member states to explain Latvia’s position. Igors Pimenovs also noted that the Saeima and the European Affairs Committee have adopted declarations on Latvia’s position regarding the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020, which means that the position has been adopted at the highest, i.e., parliamentary, level.




Saeima Press Service

Trešdien, 12.jūnijā
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10:00  Ārlietu komisijas sēde
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10:00  Juridiskās komisijas sēde
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10:00  Tautsaimniecības, agrārās, vides un reģionālās politikas komisijas sēde
10:00  Sociālo un darba lietu komisijas sēde
10:15  Cilvēktiesību un sabiedrisko lietu komisijas sēde
12:00  Ilgtspējīgas attīstības komisijas Demogrāfijas, ģimeņu un bērnu lietu apakškomisijas un Ilgtspējīgas attīstības komisijas kopsēde
12:00  Mandātu, ētikas un iesniegumu komisijas sēde
12:00  Nacionālās drošības komisijas sēde
12:00  Pilsonības, migrācijas un sabiedrības saliedētības komisijas sēde
12:00  Ilgtspējīgas attīstības komisijas un Ilgtspējīgas attīstības komisijas Demogrāfijas, ģimeņu un bērnu lietu apakškomisijas kopsēde
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