On 15 September, President of Latvia Egils Levits took part in the XVI Arraiolos Group meeting in Rome. He joined his colleagues, heads of other parliamentary and semi-presidential European Union (EU) member states, for a discussion on strategic tools for strengthening EU’s resilience after the COVID-19 pandemic.
President of Latvia spoke about importance of common European values for greater strategic autonomy of Europe, ‘by common values we do not necessarily mean identical values, we must welcome a certain degree of diversity when it comes to values to be able to agree on the main lines’.
According to Egils Levits, disruption of global trade and supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted Europe’s external vulnerabilities even more and future threats to EU’s resilience need to be addressed immediately.
‘Europe needs well-functioning single market where all member states work according to the same rules and standards promoting fair competition. Europe can build greater resilience to possible disruptions by diversifying its supply chains and boosting own capacity, especially in the field of medical technologies and pharmaceuticals. Comprehensive digital and green agenda will once again put Europe at the front of global innovation and technology growth. We must also not forget that Europe’s prosperity and interests can be best achieved by working together with other like-minded partners,’ President Levits said.
President of Latvia stressed the significance of close coordination between EU member states on various threats for better preparedness to future shocks across Europe. Better communication and exchange of information between member states and EU institutions is one of measures that need to be implemented. ‘Latvia proposes to hold a meeting of ministers responsible for European and home affairs to discuss crisis preparedness and management issues. We need to understand how well EU’s institutional framework, action plans and procedures are built to withstand a crisis. We need to identify and alleviate weaknesses and use our opportunities more wisely,’ Egils Levits pleaded.
President Levits praised the US President Joe Biden during the discussion about the role of multilateralism, saying that virtual Summit for Democracy scheduled for this December will bring together global leaders, civic society activists, entrepreneurs and philanthropists. He also underlined that EU democracy is focused on nation states.
Discussion about current security challenges focused on current situation in Afghanistan among other issues. As Egils Levits pointed out, transfer of power implies an obligation to abide by international commitments and provide human rights, security and free movement standards for all Afghanis.
Arraiolos group is a traditional meeting of presidents of parliamentary and semi-presidential European Union member states. The first meeting of the group, initiated by Portuguese president Jorge Sampaio was held in 2003, in Portugal, Arraiolos. Latvia hosted the Informal meeting of Arraiolos Group on 13-14 September 2018.