Baltic states update mutual consular assistance agreement

On 2 July 2020, a renewed Agreement on Consular Assistance and Co-operation between Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania comes into force.

The document supersedes the agreement on consular assistance and co-operation between the Government of the Republic of Latvia, the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania signed in Vilnius on 5 February 1999, the provisions of which "can be considered outdated and had come into conflict with the current legal framework in the field of consular assistance in the European Union and the national legislation of the three states," according to a release from the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"The renewed Consular Convention makes it possible to organise cooperation between the consular services of the three Baltic States in accordance with the present-day requirements. The agreement envisages the right to cooperate in the provision of consular assistance not only in third countries (pursuant to Council Directive (EU) 2015/637) but also in the European Union. This means that Latvian nationals will be able to apply to Estonian or Lithuanian diplomatic and consular missions in EU Member States where Latvia has no diplomatic missions or consular posts, but Estonia or Lithuania have one, for instance, in Portugal, Romania, and Croatia," said the MFA 

As regards the issuing of EU emergency travel documents and the ad hoc cooperation between the Baltic States, the convention also applies to "non-citizens" of Latvia and Estonia; provisions of this kind had also been included in the 1999 agreement.

The new convention offers more detailed standards of consular assistance in a number of areas including for victims of a violent crime, in cases of a serious accident or distress, assistance in cases of death or repatriation, assistance in cases of arrest, detention or imprisonment, issuance of an EU Emergency Travel Document or a national certificate of return.

The consular assistance standards laid down in the convention are in line with Council Directive (EU) 2015/637 of 20 April 2015 on the coordination and cooperation measures to facilitate consular protection for unrepresented citizens of the Union in third countries.

The agreement was signed on 6 December 2019 during the meeting of the Prime Ministers’ Council of the Baltic Council of Ministers in Riga.

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