Latvia to promote EU trade and sustainable development

The EU's global standing impacts directly on its security and prosperity, explains Edgars Rinkēvičs.

By Edgars Rinkevics

15 Dec 2014

For several years, Latvia has been preparing to chair the European council working groups and to reach a common understanding with other EU institutions when decisions have to be made. The Latvian presidency will work to improve the competitiveness of the European Union by promoting activities that generate growth, investment and jobs. In parallel, Latvia will encourage the application of digital technologies in a way that is more comprehensive than ever before.

We would like to see the EU become 'digital by default', increasing the speed and efficiency of transactions and communication. We want to see Europe's information, business, banking, and public services profit from a borderless digital environment, and be able to take advantage of it at every opportunity. Our motto is 'competitive Europe, digital Europe, engaged Europe'. This means that the EU will pursue objectives not only in multilateral fora and around our globalised world, but also through trade, development and cooperation.

"Promotion of trade and development cooperation projects will be of benefit not only to the EU but also to our partners"

I am looking forward to working closely with Federica Mogherini, the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, and colleagues from the European external action service. We will strive to improve engagement with transatlantic allies, with central Asian and eastern partnership neighbours, and with strategic partners across the world. The security and prosperity of the EU is directly linked to its role and influence in global affairs, and that influence and ability to face challenges will be aided by striving for consensus in foreign policy.

Promotion of trade and development cooperation projects will be of benefit not only to the EU but also to our partners. Dynamic trade and development assistance and constructive cooperation between regions and countries can multiply opportunities for people and businesses in other parts of the world. Consequently, our vision of an engaged Europe is one that is aware of what is going on around it, concerned about our partners, both outward and forward-looking.

Latvia has always believed in a rules-based multilateral trading system. In terms of trade, Latvia will be working on behalf of all EU stakeholders to enhance competitiveness and openness of the internal market. We will stand up for the EU's rights under existing rules while advocating access to world markets.

Latvia's presidency will pursue further progress in the world trade organisation's multilateral negotiations, including accession talks. Moreover, we support the fast-tracking of the commission-led negotiations on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership with the US as this agreement will strengthen our business ties. The EU-Japan trade agreement should be advanced too, while we also hope that the agreement between the EU and Ecuador can be signed and provisionally applied during the Latvian presidency. We will seek consent from the parliament to conclude the EU-Canada comprehensive economic and trade agreement by mid-2015. While providing the platform for Europe's return to growth, these trade agreements also have a geostrategic value and will raise the EU's profile on the world stage.

"The security and prosperity of the EU is directly linked to its role and influence in global affairs, and that influence and ability to face challenges will be aided by striving for consensus in foreign policy"

The millennium development goals are expiring in 2015, and all of us will be pressed to consider and agree upon a universal post-2015 framework for sustainable development and poverty eradication. Therefore, the Latvian presidency will work to position the EU as a major development policy player with a powerful voice in intergovernmental negotiations on the new development goals. If all dimensions of sustainable development, including those that are economic, social and environmental, are integrated in a balanced manner, I am convinced that the new agenda can make a visible and positive impact. The policy framework should also include human rights, good governance, rule of law and gender equality. Latvia will place high importance on these issues during our presidency, not only in the context of development cooperation, but also from the standpoint of the EU's internal affairs. Building a society where all are capable and able to partake of its fruits is not feasible without respect for human rights and rule of law.

In relation to the discussions on sustainable development goals, Latvia's presidency will work to forge an ambitious position for the third international conference on financing for development in July 2015. National ownership, policy coherence and effectiveness of policy implementation, as well as monitoring and accountability, must be present and implicit in the EU's position.

I look at the Latvian presidency of the council of the European Union as a special opportunity for a member state to prove its worth. We will work hard, and show our commitment to agreed goals while also pushing the envelope and placing an emphasis on new directions that can make the EU succeed in the long run.

The Latvian presidency comes at a pivotal and decisive moment in the history of global development policy and Latvia is ready to promote the European Union's interests in this important field.


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