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Achievements of Latvia's EU presidency

Posted by Nick Prag at 02 July 2015, 15:50 CET |
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Latvia ended its six-month stint as President of the Council of the European Union on 30 June. It has stuck to its task admirably, chaired some 200 EU meetings, and delivered a number of major legislative successes.

Achievements of Latvia's EU presidency

Latvia EU presidency logo

When Latvia's stint as president of the European Union began on 1 January 2015, the main issues exercising Europe's leadership were Russia and Vladimir Putin's aggressive, expansionist foreign policy, the need to move Europe's economic crisis towards growth and jobs, and the economic woes and political uncertainty of Greece.

On 1 July, as Latvia's presidency ended, Greece flounders in economic turmoil, and an ever-increasingly assertive and aggressive Russia continues to try to frustrate attempts by its neighbours at closer association with the EU.

A small country is unlikely to do great things during its period in presidency. But it does have the chance to put its stamp and character on EU proceedings.

In fact, it has performed admirably its task as president of the EU Council, and chair of some 200 meetings. And it has delivered a number of legislative successes.

Infographic: Results of the Latvian Presidency of the EU

In January, targets for Latvia’s Presidency included the Commission's EUR 300 billion investment plan, the digital internal market and strengthening Europe's energy independence.

On all these, there has been progress.

The agreement reached with the European Parliament on the European fund for strategic investments (EFSI) paved the way for final adoption before the end of the presidency. This should enable new investments to begin already this summer, helping to boost economic growth.

On the digital single market, the presidency achieved significant progress over recent months. It managed to reach a general approach on the data protection regulation, as well as provisional agreement with the Parliament on abolishing roaming and open internet access.

The Presidency has also managed to agree with the Parliament on the main principles for the directive on network and information security (NIS).

Finally, a key highlight of Latvia's presidency, in view of the country's position as a gateway between the EU in the west and Russia and the countries of the Independent States in the east, was the Eastern Partnership summit in May, where the EU met with its Eastern counterparts.

The importance of the EU's relationship with these Eastern Partnership countries was further underlined through more than ten various themed high level meetings such as trade, health, agriculture, civil society, media, digital economy, justice, home affairs, border management and others.

One cannot exactly say that the first six months of this year have brought stability to the eurozone and its economy, or in relations with Russia and its eastern neighbours.

But Latvia's first EU presidency since its accession to the Union has been a big moment in its history, cementing its place in the European family. But it can be proud of the way it has handled its work and the the progress it has made on many fronts.

One of the smallest countries in the EU now hands over to Luxembourg, an even smaller one, though a lot more experienced in the business of the EU.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.