Rinkēvičs told his counterparts at the two-day meeting “Strategic agenda for the Union in times of change” that discussions on improving the functioning of the Council configurations and EU priorities should remain within the framework of current agreements. He said a great deal of work had been invested into making the EU more effective, yet several issues require additional attention.
The Latvian foreign affairs minister stressed the need to strengthen the role of member states’ national parliaments, cooperation between EU institutions and the EU General Affairs Council. As next in line to assume the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU in January 2015 from current presiding state Italy, Rinkēvičs said Latvia is prepared to keep working on improving EU operations from all aspects.
The ministers also looked at implementation of the EU Strategic Programme approved in June by the European Council, which includes protection of EU citizens, growth and competitiveness, progress towards an energy union, increasing its international role, and ensuring freedom, security and rights for the people of the Union.
Rinkēvičs said that the General Affairs Council should take an essential role in overseeing the implementation of priorities as rapidly as possible. While all of the salient priorities should be pursued simultaneously, special attention will be paid to securing the EU’s growth and competitiveness, which will be the central focus of Latvia’s six-month Presidency before it rotates on to current Presidency Trio member-state Luxembourg next July.