What are the European Union’s main challenges which the incoming Latvian Presidency of the EU Council will need to address? On 4 December 2014 a large-scale Latvian EU Pre-Presidency conference titled 'Moving the Union forward: Involvement, Growth, Sustainability' was held in Riga. EU relations with the Eastern Partnership countries – especially with Ukraine – ranked high on the agenda.
During Latvia's Presidency, about 200 events are planned in Latvia, including high-level political meetings. One of the central events will be the Eastern Partnership Summit, scheduled to take place in Riga on 21-22 May 2015. In preparation of the summit a panel session titled 'Towards the Riga Summit: Eastern Partnership as a Community of Values or Interests?' addressed related issues:
'The foundations and direction of the Eastern Partnership are now being reconsidered, not least because of the events in Ukraine. What future developments can the EU introduce on its own side and what can we expect from our partners? How does the Sakharov vision of values (such as human rights, freedom, and democracy) go together with the immediate needs of security and economic development? Can we expect ever greater convergence between the visions of development of the EU and its Eastern neighbors?' (quote from the conference programme)
The Programme of the Latvian Presidency states:
'During the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit, a strong signal reaffirming long-term EU strategic support for the ENP should be sent. The review process should allow the EU to develop more flexible and inclusive approaches to all its partner countries based on differentiation and an emphasis on joint ownership.'
The Trans European Policy Studies Assocoiation (TEPSA) has the tradition to formulate recommendations to the incoming presidency and present the country with the main conclusions. Recommendations for the Latvian Presdiency were presented in this conference. They stress that the current geopolitical situation is evidently calling into question the basis of the EU foreign and security policy and proving that the EU ambitions to have a strategic partnership with third countries (including Russia) have not been accomplished.