Latvian presidency events will emphasise business needs

 A number of events during Latvia's EU council presidency will highlight the need to prioritise business to achieve economic growth, write Gundars Strautmanis and Vitālijs Gavrilovs.

The current EU council presidency is the first time Latvia has held the rotating presidency. Its priorities are a competitive Europe, a digital Europe, a committed Europe, a secure Europe and a greater role for Europe on the international stage, particularly in view of the fact that 2015 is the European year for development.

Social partners and employers in particular are playing an active role in the work of the presidency. They are putting forward their own priorities and highlighting that the only way to facilitate development in Europe is through business. The business environment and protection of investors therefore needs to be improved, and convergence between less developed and more developed member states facilitated. Specifically, the priorities of business organisations involve developing and rolling out the Juncker investment plan which should promote renewed economic activity and growth in Europe, encouraging investment in Europe.

One of the key business events organised under the Latvian presidency will be the eastern partnership business forum which aims to boost cooperation across borders. The objective is to promote direct business cooperation, trade and investment between the EU and the eastern partnership countries, as well as other countries, by creating a more favourable environment for business and supporting the strengthening of existing business links and enabling the creation of new ones.

"Businesses want to direct the attention of European Union and member state leaders to the importance of creating a political, economic and financial environment that will boost investment, growth and jobs"

The employers' confederation of Latvia which is running the event has emphasised that it is crucial to use this discussion platform to re-establish pragmatic business-to-business cooperation between the European Union, its partner countries, Russia and the central Asia region. Given its historical development and geographical proximity, Latvian business is well equipped and ready to share its experiences with European partners with a view to establishing long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with these regions. Latvian employers believe that economic cooperation can be a bridge bringing the EU, Russia, Ukraine and other countries and regions involved together.

This will form one of the main topics on the agenda of the Business Europe council of presidents meeting hosted by the employers' confederation of Latvia this spring and attended by business leaders from all EU and European economic area countries.

Eurochambres will hold a general assembly and a forum in Latvia in cooperation with its member organisation, the Latvian chamber of commerce and industry. Guests will include dignitaries from five central Asian states: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.

One of the priorities of the presidency is digital agenda. Latvia is one of the EU's leaders in the area of digital development, therefore the presidency is an ideal opportunity to encourage other member states to follow its example. The priority for Latvian business is further development of the digital single market, which can significantly contribute to Europe's growth. One of the events geared towards this goal will be the European digital agenda assembly.

Regional economic development is also a significant area, therefore, the employers' confederation of Latvia is also organising a top-level presidency-related conference to discuss opportunities to facilitate entrepreneurship in EU regions. The event is being held in two Latvian cities to showcase the best examples of development using EU structural funds. Social dialogue will also be discussed in detail in a separate presidency event in March where employer and employee organisations will gather.

Businesses want to direct the attention of European Union and member state leaders to the importance of creating a political, economic and financial environment that will boost investment, growth and jobs. We also hope that the presidency will launch a debate on a new European global strategy instead of one focusing on individual regions. Europe should step up the role of business in this process and decision-makers should realise that their decisions need to promote stability, social peace and investment.


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