Coalition: no minister for EU Presidency

With just over two months before Latvia assumes the six-month Presidency of the Council of the EU, the coalition government has not prepared any ruling on establishing a dedicated ministerial post for the ceremonial and agenda-setting leadership role assigned to member-states on a rotating basis.

Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevics confirmed on Latvian Radio (LR) Thursday that no special political post would be created while Latvia leads the EU as part of its tri-partite presidency, which it will take over from current presidency-holder Italy and hand off to Luxembourg after its term ends in July 2015.

According to the experience of other member-states that have served as presiding nations of the Council of the EU, professional politicians are often entrusted with the added load of obligations incumbent to the role.

Rinkevics told LR that the workload for Latvia’s foreign service personnel will be “intense.”  However, creating a temporary European Affairs ministry is no longer a realistic option, the state’s senior diplomat said, despite having been a staunch defender of the idea previously. He said a ‘Plan B’ is under preparation in the event he is confirmed to continue in his diplomatic post in the next government to be approved by the 12th Saeima.

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma confirmed the Foreign Minister’s remarks.

“We haven’t discussed any political postings during the upcoming Presidency, so it definitely won’t be a minister. We’ll confer with the foreign minister about having a separate parliamentary secretary for the job, but not someone sitting at the Cabinet of Ministers,” she said.

Of the political parties elected to the 12th Saeima, only Harmony, which is likely to remain in the long-standing opposition, was favorably inclined to the establishment of a European Affairs post for the term of the Presidency.

The Greens-Farmers Alliance and National Alliance have been strongly opposed to the proposal, as were political parties From the Heart for Latvia and the Regional Alliance.

 

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