Towards a special European mission; international conference in Riga discusses PresidencyCreated on 2014-12-08
"Presidency is an opportunity to define and change the country’s role in the EU. For the Latvian government the Presidency is a special European calling and a mission. As the presiding country Latvia will be put on the political map for EU citizens and governments from outside the EU – particularly since it belongs to the group of smaller and newer members," - in the introduction of the analysis of the Latvian Presidency states Trans-European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA) which traditionally presents recommendations to the incoming presidencies.
The large-scale Latvian EU Pre-Presidency Conference “Moving the Union forward: Involvement, Growth, Sustainability” took place in Riga on 4 December. The conference brought together more than 40 leading experts and policy makers from both- Latvia and international arena - representing 26 different countries.
In a creative and academic atmosphere professionals discussed various topics relevant to the Latvian Presidency – from the Eastern Partnership and Transatlantic Relations to the Digital Single Market and energy policy. It was a unique opportunity for Latvian policy makers and society to promote our priorities and to find out how international experts evaluate Latvia’s plans shortly before the beginning of the Presidency.
Andris Sprūds, the director of the Latvian Institute of International Affairs, said in his opening remarks that
“In a global context, European Union lives in a period of uncertainty but we shouldn’t blame external factors for what we are not able to do. Let’s rather talk about our homework that we and all Europeans have to accomplish during the Presidency.”
Along with the positive benefits of the Presidency, experts reminded not to forget that the Presidency is not a “silver bullet” – Latvia has strong ambitions but the Presidency is an instrument, not a solution. “It is an opportunity to emphasize something but it is not a remedy for everything,” experts concluded at the end of the conference.
Dr. Wolfgang Wessels, professor from the University of Cologne, also pointed out that presidencies mainly have to deal with so called “business as usual”. “For example, strategy review of the Central Asia probably is not an exceptional innovation but it is necessary for moving forward,” says the professor.
Researchers’ recommendations to the Latvian Presidency: focus on investment and global strategy
The Trans European Policy Studies Assocoiation (TEPSA) has the tradition to formulate recommendations to the incoming presidency and present the country with the main conclusions. Recommendations for the Latvian Presdiency were presented in this conference. Among the most important suggestions researchers mentioned:
- immediate, active work on Juncker’s 300 billion investment package because this initiative has a potential to be a part of the solution to the economic stagnation in many Member States. Researchers encourage Latvia to launch the European-level programme for renovation of housing to reduce energy loss.
- In the field of foreign affairs researchers suggest to create a European Global Strategy instead of primarily focusing on the neighborhood. They stress that the current geopolitical situation is evidently calling into question the basis of the EU foreign and security policy and proving that the EU ambitions to have a strategic partnership with third countries (including Russia) have not been accomplished. European foreign and security policy is not merely regional, on the contrary – the EU has to be engaged with other parts of the world and not just economically but as an effective security actor.
- Taking into account the digital priority, the Latvian Presidency should bring forward clear proposals for improving cyber security at the EU level.