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The Warsaw Voice » Business » January 28, 2015
Central Europe Energy Partners
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Latvia’s Priorities for EU Presidency
January 28, 2015   
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On Jan. 1, Latvia took over the rotating presidency of the European Union. It will hold it until July 1. Steering the course of EU affairs marks an important test for Latvia, because this is the first Latvian presidency since the country joined the bloc in 2004.

The Latvian presidency will aim to help create a “competitive, digital, and engaged Europe.” The Latvians are planning to deal with a number of issues, including the need to foster investment and economic reform; revision of the Europe 2020 strategy; creation of a digital single market; developing transatlantic relationships via the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP); neighborhood policy, especially in terms of the Eastern Partnership; and issues related to migration and security policy.

Brussels’ main responsibilities during the Latvian presidency are in the hands of Ilze Juhansone, Ambassador and Head of Latvia’s Permanent Representative Office in Brussels. Juhansone says that the Latvian presidency wants to focus on a more competitive Europe, defining specific projects to be carried out in the current economic situation. In terms of the economy, the EU needs a strong, single market, therefore the Latvian presidency will try to come up with good solutions for industry, Juhansone says.

As an Energy Union has become one of the priorities of the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, Latvia aims to start work on the possible structure of such an union. From their perspective, the most important factors to consider are improvements in energy infrastructure, energy security, and setting up a stronger agenda for the Baltic states in terms of energy.

Due to the current political situation, one of the priorities for the Latvian presidency is to encourage a deeper monetary union. Other priorities include new technologies, especially a “Digital Agenda,” in terms of both cyber security, and a well-prepared, comprehensive, e-government action plan.

Central Europe Energy Partners has asked Juhansone about energy infrastructure in terms of the North-South Corridor and the newly-published CEEP and Atlantic Council report entitled Completing Europe – from the North-South Corridor to Energy, Transportation and Telecommunications Union. Juhansone said that implementing a priority list of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) and moving forward strongly towards their completion will be of major interest in the next few months. A new investment package will be taken into consideration, but the Latvian presidency wants to concentrate on existing projects as well as on the new list planned for 2015. Juhansone added, however, that more regional thinking is needed, and from an Energy Union point of view.

To cope with all these declared priorities, Latvia plans to organize during its six-month presidency around 200 events at different levels in Latvia, and about 1,500 meetings in Brussels and Luxembourg. During its presidency, it will fall on Latvia to host the Eastern Partnership Summit, the Fifth Meeting of the Ministers of Education of the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) countries, and the European Standardization Conference.

Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP) brings together 26 companies and organizations from the energy sector and energy-intensive industries such as coal, gas, oil, electricity generation and transmission, renewables, steel and chemicals, in addition to universities and scientific institutions.

CEEP members represent five Central European countries: the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Romania. Some CEEP members also have their own representative offices in Brussels, but view their participation in CEEP as crucial in order to be more influential when working with EU decision makers.

CEEP is a nonprofit association, a status that is designed to underline its independence and transparency. CEEP aims to be one of the most important stakeholders within the EU’s energy and energy security policy areas.
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