Government pushes EU presidency plan in Brussels

The entire Latvian cabinet enjoyed an away-day in Belgium Wednesday in order to prime their European Union colleagues ahead of Latvia's six-month presidency of the Council of the EU early next year.

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma held center stage in talks with newly-installed EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, after which she took part in a press conference.

"If we speak about our priorities then we have three," Straujuma told journalists, telling them they were "competitive Europe", "digital Europe" and "engaged Europe".

Today we had very fruitful discussions between our ministers and the commissioners... I'm very satisfied that our priorities will be fulfilled." 

Asked if Latvia could play a role in peace talks over Ukraine by the EU and Russia owing to its large proportion of Russian-speakers, Straujuma said

"Twenty-five years ago we were under the influence of the Soviet Union, so we understand... We will do our best together with Vice President Mogherini to calm the situation.... but from the other side it's not acceptable that one country can take a piece of another country and no-one will react."

Former Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, now an EU Vice President himself, said: "We see quite a lot of common points in those priorities as regards a focus on economic growth and job creation and... support for investment, structural reforms, fiscal responsbility, those are very much in line with Latvia's priorities."

EU President Jean-Claude Juncker was even more blunt, asserting:

The prorities of the Latvian presidency and the European Commission are exactly the same."

While Straujuma spoke in Brussels, a delegation from the European Parliament was flying in the opposite direction to receive its own briefing on the EU presidency plans from her in Riga on Thursday.

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