Government takes pride in Latvia's EU Presidency achievements

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Even though Latvia's EU Presidency wasn't blessed with a particularly peaceful political and economic situation, the Latvian government is satisfied with the things achieved during the Presidency. Not only did Latvia adopt at least 10 declarations and notifications; the state also received compliments for its organizational skills, said Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma ("Vienotība") and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs ("Vienotība") in a joint press conference.

Among concrete results that were achieved is the so-called Juncker Plan for creating a fund for reviving investment in strategic projects throughout Europe and mobilizing about 315 bln euros for that task.

"We managed, together with the [European Commission], to pass [the Juncker Plan] and prepare it in a record time of four and a half months, which is a very good result in comparison with the usual of about a year," said Straujuma.

"As a result of the agreements we've made, more young people will be able to receive scholarships, and every Latvian citizen will be able to receive assistance in any EU embassy in the world, and do safe shopping for travel on the internet," said Straujuma, listing some of the practical benefits of the Presidency.

Rinkēvičs joined in praise for the much-vaunted Juncker Plan, saying it will be a good stimulus both for the EU economy and growth of the member states.

According to Rinkēvičs, Latvia has done a lot during the Presidency. Many challenges and issues not yet solved will have to be handed to Luxembourg, the next country to take the Presidency. These include developing the digital market, working with eastern and southern neighbors of the EU, fighting Russian propaganda, cooperating within the Energy union, and more.

When confronted with the Presidency's alleged lack of solidarity with the remaining members on the refugee matter, Rinkēvičs stressed that the mandatory nature of the quotas was not originally part of the European Council's suggestion, and that movement is starting to address the problem on several fronts, including within the countries from which refugees flock to Europe.

"At the moment we have focused our attention on things important for each state individually, but it's also important that [...] we have created a larger framework. We won't solve the refugee problem if we won't solve the causes," said Rinkēvičs. 

Previously parliamentary official Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica stated that Latvia's Presidency in the European Union was handled well, a view that seems to be reflected among diplomats in Brussels.

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