Response to global challenges should not be decided by a select few

Latvian Institute of International Affairs
Latvia expects the EU to react energetically to the challenge of overcoming the global economic decline and restoring growth and that in order to achieve this, a new architecture and new mechanisms are needed for the global financial system. The response to this global challenge should also include pursuing actively the Doha Round of discussions on liberalising world trade to their logical conclusion and supporting consistently a policy of free and open trade.[1] The resultant agreements and policies, Latvia feels, would present a wider window of opportunity for developing its own foreign trade relations.
More specifically, during the Czech Presidency of the EU, Latvia anticipates implementation of the steps agreed upon during the European Council of 11 and 12 December 2008. Likewise, Latvia anticipates simplification in the application procedure for, and speedier disbursement of, the various EU funds for assisting agriculture.
Latvia endorses the principles of the G20 declaration, announced in Washington on 15 November 2008, and would like to contribute to the discussions at the EU level of the follow-up G20 Summit in April 2009.
The performance of the EU in the financial crisis so far
Latvia tends to look at the performance of the EU in the worldwide financial crisis almost exclusively through the prism of its own set of problems and challenges, especially those deriving from its economic recession. Consequently, the view from Rīga can be summarised very quickly. Firstly, the government and the people are grateful for the Union’s speedy decision to offer financial assistance. There is also much appreciation for allowing the recipient countries to choose the appropriate political instruments that they see as best suited for rejuvenating their economies. Thus, Latvians intend to follow closely how the assistance funds are spent so that the funds truly stimulate a solid economic recovery leading to renewed growth.
Expected shifts in the international power constellation
The response to this very broad question entails rather sophisticated prognostication and a global, rather than a national focus on current developments. As noted earlier, currently Latvia is most concerned with how best to resolve its own problems. Regarding the future, the ideas that have been aired so far seem to reflect mainstream European thinking. One is that the response to global challenges should not be decided by a select few, but that the circle of discussants and decision-makers should be increased to include as many stakeholders as possible, even if arriving at an agreement becomes more time-consuming. This in turn could serve to revive the question of competences: when and where the EU should be represented as an organisation and when EU participation would be via the participation of individual EU member states? Without attempting to sort this question out – this has to be done by all the member states – one way that the EU can ensure its global relevance is by contributing visibly and effectively to a successful economic recovery of, and renewed growth, in its member states. This would also strengthen the Union’s position in a multilateral world.

[1] The answers to this set of questions draw mainly on a document outlining Latvia’s priorities during the Czech Presidency of the EU. See Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Latvijai būtiskākie jautājumi ārlietu jomā Čehijas ES prezidentūras laikā 2009. gada pirmajā pusē, available at: (last access: 25 January 2009).