The security of Latvia and its population has been strengthened
1. Responding of public authorities in the event of an external national threat is improved.
2. In 2015, amendments to the Law on National Security, the Law on the Structure of the Cabinet of Ministers, and the Law on National Armed Forces were submitted to the Saeima for consideration. The Saeima adopted the relevant amendments to the laws at the beginning of 2016, which have taken effect:
- The President of Latvia has proposed to stipulate that, in the event of an unexpected military invasion, the National Armed Forces begin to protect the country without waiting for a separate order, as no institution can forbid the resistance of the troops of the Latvian National Armed Forces and every inhabitant of Latvia to resist a military invasion henceforth.
3. Enhanced defensibility of Latvia. In June 2014, the Saeima decided to increase defence spending to 2% of GDP by 2020. Raimonds Vējonis began as the Minister of Defence and continued as the President of Latvia to contribute actively for this goal be achieved already in 2018. Permanent advocating of the enforcement of this decision resulted in significant improvement of the equipment, training, and combat capacity of the National Guard and an increased number of Young Guards in Latvia.
4. Enhanced NATO Battle Group deployed in Latvia (resulting from the decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Warsaw in 2016).
The rule of law in Latvia has been strengthened
1. The President of Latvia has acted swiftly and consistently not to allow the Saeima to adopt last-minute solutions in draft laws, as well he opposed the adoption of poor-quality laws.
2. There are 13 laws returned to the Saeima for reconsideration:
- Objections to eight laws were taken into account and, as a result of the reconsideration, shortcomings in the laws (in whole or in part) were eliminated, and the laws improved;
- In three cases, the objections were not taken into account (concerning amendments to the Law on the Financial Instruments Market, amendments to the Law on Electronic Mass Media Law, and amendments to the Labour Law).
In one case, the Saeima did not take into account the objections and did not improve the law, but returning the law to the Saeima for reconsideration prevented intervention in the functioning of the court (amendments to the Law on Credit Institutions).
Detailed information on the laws returned by the President of Latvia to the Saeima for reconsideration is available here.
3. An Initiative of Good Laws. To improve the quality of legislation and transparency of decision-making process, the President of Latvia submitted amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Saeima (repeatedly submitted to the Legal Committee of the Saeima in February 2019).
The President of Latvia proposed:
- In order to make the legislative process more transparent and to provide a convenient and easy-to-understand way to familiarise oneself with the rationale of laws, as well as to provide information on who has participated in the drafting of the law, both the rationale for the proposals and information on the consultations that took place during the preparation of the proposals should be provided in writing;
- Make changes so that such proposals that are beyond the purpose and scope of the draft law discussed in previous readings would not be reviewed in the third reading;
- Define that all draft laws should have annotations written before submitting any draft law henceforth. This would allow for a more complete assessment of the potential impact of draft laws and provide greater clarity to both the legislator and the public at large as to why the law is needed and what issues the new framework is called to solve.
4. The President of Latvia has repeatedly addressed the Saeima about the quality of the legislative process and the possibilities and need for its improvement.
5. On 10 November 2017, the President of Latvia returned amendments to the Law on Judicial Power to the Saeima by opposing the Saeima’s decision to lift the restriction to a chairperson of district (city) court and a chairperson of the regional court to hold the position for more than two consecutive terms, as it was not aiming at developing the judicial system.
6. The President of Latvia has urged to evaluate the restrictions of senior officials in general, having considered that the two term restriction is in the interests of democratic and good governance.
7. In the discussion round initiated by the President of Latvia to strengthen the judicial power in Latvia, the role and responsibility of a judge for the rule of law and the state of Latvia was analysed, as well as opportunities for improvement of judicial work were sought together with judges and experts. Because of the discussions, the judges initiated an open public discussion on the necessary improvements to the judicial power themselves.
President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis has promulgated 890 laws in total during the presidency:
Detailed information on the legislative initiatives of the President of Latvia is available here.
Detailed information on the letters of the President of Latvia to the Saeima on significant legislative issues is available here.
Working on the improvement of education
One of the priorities during the presidency of President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis was work to promote the availability of high-quality and modern education for every child regardless of the social status of their parents. Therefore, during his presidency, the President of Latvia:
1. Supported the introduction of competency-based education content to raise the overall level of education quality.
2. Strengthened the gradual transition to learning in official language starting from primary school by promoting the integration of young people into the public and the labour market, and supported the ban on provision of non-EU language programs in universities;
3. Urged the Saeima to elaborate the necessary amendments to the Law on General Education in his letter of 21 February 2017 to create the legal basis for the continuation of reforms in general education and the necessary preconditions for the adjustment of the network of general education institutions.
By inviting to supplement the Law on General Education with a new regulation, providing that, when reorganising or liquidating a general education institution, account shall be taken of the number of pupils in grade 10 or grade 10 to 12, as well as the quality of education acquired in a general education institution, the number of inhabitants of a municipality, and demographic forecasts, access to education in the municipality and neighbouring municipalities, as well as other criteria defined by law.
4. Visited general education institutions where he met with teachers and pupils during regular regional working visits;
5. Met with the representatives of higher education institutions regularly to update the challenges of the area and find solutions to them;
6. Engaged actively in patriotic education being the patron of the Young Guard Movement and actively supporting activities of Latvian Scouts and Guides Organisation in Latvia.
Contribution to the development of the national economy
- As a result of the active involvement of the President of Latvia, a significant reduction in the volume of budget package laws has been achieved, as well as the stability of the taxation system has been promoted, including less "surprises" for the private sector in the closing days of the year (for example, there were 50+ laws in the 2017 budget package, there were 20+ laws in the 2018 budget package, because the taxation reform-related laws were out of the budget package and were adopted in July instead of the last days of the year a moment before the new regulation should be applied).
- According to the initiative of the President of Latvia, the Law on Budget and Financial Management establish a permanent obligation for the government to evaluate the basic spending to ensure the targeted and more efficient use of the state budget funds, that is, funding from internal resources must be sought before requesting additional funding.
- Stable, predictable tax policy in Latvia has been promoted, as the President of Latvia supported the reform of the taxation system, which stipulated not to change taxes for 3 years, exempt reinvested profit from taxes to enable enterprises to invest in the national economy.
- On 25 November 2015, the President of Latvia met with Minister of Finance Jānis Reirs, Chairperson of the Budget and Finance (Taxation) Committee of the Saeima Kārlis Šadurskis, and Minister of Culture Dace Melbārde, and he proposed not to change the regulation of value-added tax for cultural events during the meeting. Amendments to the Value Added Tax Law proposed in the annual state budget package set forth that the entrance fee for commercial, cultural events such as theatre and circus performances, and concerts was subject to VAT 21%. After meeting with the President of Latvia, they reached an agreement to postpone the application of 21% value-added tax (VAT) to the tickets for cultural events. read more
- On 2 December 2016, the President of Latvia returned the Law “Amendments to the Micro-enterprise Tax Law” adopted on 23 November 2016 to the Saeima for reconsideration, which provides for the termination of the micro-enterprise tax regime. The President of Latvia believed that the proposed regulation was incomplete and contradicted the previously made decisions, which businesses and the public relied on.
- On 9 November 2018, the President of Latvia returned an amendment to the Labour Law to the Saeima by stressing that the state should guarantee the fair opportunities for all and every one by law. By combating the shadow economy in one sector, we may not put employers and employees in another sector at a disadvantage. The President of Latvia stressed that the amendment to the Labour Law adopted by the Saeima was assessed fragmentary and insufficiently developed. While trying to promote one or individual sectors of the national economy come into the light from the shadow economy, one has not assessed the risks associated with the fair application of this regulation in other sectors adequately.
- In spite of the numerous requests received at the Chancery of the President of Latvia to demand the reconsideration of the law by the Saeima, the President of Latvia promulgated the Amendments to the Law on Consumer Rights Protection, which provided for stricter regulation in the area of so-called “express loans”, namely, to reduce the total costs of credit incurred by a consumer, to restrict the amount of loans issued for 30 days, and changed their repayment procedure. At the same time, creditors were subject to stricter requirements to assess the consumer’s ability to repay the loan.
- Having commenced the consultations with the political parties elected in the 13th convocation of the Saeima on the formation of the government and during negotiations with the candidates for the Prime Minister, the President of Latvia prioritised the necessity to create a balanced state budget while considering the possibilities to work on savings.
Contributing to the cohesion of the public
- To promote the further development of a cohesive Latvian society based on the shared values of the Latvian people, President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis submitted the draft law “On the Termination of the Granting of Non-citizen Status to Children” to the Saeima repeatedly on 21 March 2019.
The President of Latvia proposed to
terminate the granting of non-citizen status to the children of non-citizens born after 1 June 2020 and recognise them as citizens of Latvia unless the parents of the child agree to grant the citizenship of another country to the child and the child is not a citizen of any other country; this initiative was aimed at children who would be born in Latvia in the future.
The President of Latvia has pointed out many times that it is essential to take this decision, because we cannot continue granting the nationality of a non-existent country to a newborn child in the second century of the Republic of Latvia (the status of a non-citizen was initially granted to citizens of the former USSR and their children who were in terminated absence and who were not citizens of Latvia or another country).
- In 2015, President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis renewed the activities of the Minorities Advisory Council to promote dialogue on ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identity issues of national minorities, as well as providing support for the facilitation of the social and political participation of minorities.
- At the end of 2018, a National Minorities Forum took place in the Riga Castle.
- In cooperation with the Publishing House Santa and the Minorities Advisory Council, the project “We Are Latvia” was implemented in the first half of 2019, where the readers of magazines published by the Publishing House Santa were introduced to inspiring minority personalities who shaped modern Latvia.
Facilitating sustainable development
1. The constant support of the President of Latvia for the introduction of a deposit system for beverage packaging in Latvia, as it is a sustainable solution of environmental policy that would promote the development of a socially responsible community while reducing the amount of waste reaching the nature.
2. The President of Latvia urged the 12th convocation of the Saeima to evaluate the possibilities of abandoning the use of plastic packaging in the production and circulation of alcoholic beverages.
- On 20 May 2017, the President of Latvia returned the Law “Amendments to the Law of Handling Alcoholic Beverages” to the Saeima for a second review.
- The President of Latvia called on the Saeima to evaluate the possibility of abandoning the sale of alcoholic beverages in plastic packaging and to reassess whether the postponement of statutory alcohol trade restrictions for three years was justified and what term would really be needed to prepare for the new regulation properly.
- The Saeima eliminated the deficiencies indicated by the President of Latvia and improved the Law by establishing that beer, fermented beverages, intermediate products and other alcoholic beverages in large plastic bottles produced until 31 December 2017 might be sold until their expiry date, but not longer than 31 March 2018.
3. As the Patron of the Great Cleanup Initiative, the President of Latvia has engaged in popularising the initiative actively and has participated in the Great Cleanups regularly.
4. As the Patron of the Environmental Quality Label for Rural Tourism Farms “Green Certificate”, the President of Latvia has confirmed support for environmentally friendly and sustainable farming in Latvian countryside (Green Certificate was awarded to the farms that respected green management principles by saving resources and creating environmentally friendly and a local community-friendly tourism offer in the Riga Castle every year).
5. The Patron of the educational multimedia project “Nature Concert Hall”.
6. During his presidency, Raimonds Vējonis participated in the measures to mitigate climate change actively:
- Participation in various high-level UN events by expressing Latvia’s position on climate change issues (Summit of the Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland (2018), UN General Assembly sessions in New York, USA (2015, 2016, 2017), Energy Security Forum in Monaco (June 2018), and bilateral meeting with His Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco (May 2018).
- Bringing climate policy issues into cross-border bilateral relations.
Discussions initiated by the President of Latvia on topical and essential issues for the public at large
- Discussion on the election of the President of Latvia by popular vote. When addressing the Members of the Parliament at the conclusion of the spring session on 22 June 2017, the President of Latvia called on the Saeima to decide so that the election of the President of Latvia in 2019 would be held by popular vote already and to extend the powers of the Head of State. The President of Latvia pointed out that the inhabitants of Latvia had long been unsatisfied with the procedures of state administration and decision-making. That could be improved by extending the powers of the President of Latvia and vesting more power in the Prime Minister concerning the formation of the government and implementation of the operational program.
- Discussions on Informative Security in the Riga Castle. At the initiative of the President of Latvia, a round of debates was held on the challenges of Latvian security in the 21st century “Latvian Security in the 21st Century: Growing Challenges and Potential Solutions” in the Riga Castle on 14 April 2016 and “Brexit Lessons for Europe and Latvia” on August 30. In their turn, Latvian and foreign experts discussed the challenges during the pre-election period in the debate “The 13th Saeima Elections: Security Test?” in the Riga Castle on 22 May 2018.
- On 20 February 2018, the President of Latvia participated in the campaign “Inspire to Learn!” of the educational program “Possible Mission”, when he led a lesson of social sciences on the role of fake news in the modern society to the pupils of grade 9 together with teacher Mareks Dambītis from the Possible Mission at the Priekuļi Secondary School.
Regional working visits
President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis met with the leaders and councillors of various local governments, population, he has visited educational institutions, enterprises significant for regions and cities, farms, he has given interviews to regional media, and has participated in festive and public events that took place in municipalities during the dates of visits regularly.
- The President of Latvia has paid 35 regional working visits during the presidency.
- He has visited 98 regions and cities of the national importance of Latvia in total during his regional working visits and for various events.