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Latvian MEP submits proposals to improve European Parliament’s direct investments control

Roberts Zīle/flickr.com.
Investments from Russia and other countries could potentially create threats to security and public order in the European Union, said MEP Roberts Zīle.

This week Zīle presented European Parliament Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) with a report associated with European Commission’s initiative for a new regulation to ensure member states and the commission are able to evaluate direct foreign investments in strategically important fields, where it is possible to influence security and public order in member states.

A similar view on things is also noticed in USA and partially in 12 EU member states in a more simplified form, said Zīle.

The MEP’s multiple submitted initiatives include expanding the existing definition of third country investments, stating that member states which have performed residence permit and gold visa programmes often face problems with acquisition of information to determine the origin of invested money. By establishing a control point with the commission, member states would be able to acquire information about recipients of direct foreign investments, said Zīle.

«It is no secret that the commission’s initial proposal for the project was based in reaction to China’s interest in investing in certain strategic fields of EU member states, and with 16+1 format in mind,» he added.

At the same time, Zīle explains that investments from Russia and other countries could potentially create threats to security and public order in the EU. ‘As it is noticed in Latvia, often the real investor hides behind layers of complex dummy structures. In this regard, member states need ways of getting information about the real investors and recipients of their money.’

With the growing wave of fake news and propaganda in Europe, Zīle’s proposals also include an invitation to adding mass media outlets to the list of factors because of which investments should be carefully evaluated based on public order and security principles.

«Even in the media sector countries applied with EU sanctions breach the law or directly interfere with media activities. External investments from those countries should be monitored especially hard,» comments Zīle.

«At the same time, to ensure EU retains an environment beneficial for investments, such a control mechanism should have justified reasons behind it. This is why I mentioned in my proposals that direct and transparent investments coming from trusted NATO member states’ government should not be applied with strict monitoring,» the MEP continues.

He notes: «I would rather not believe that investments in security and defence coming from some country that is outside the EU but part of NATO could potentially negatively affect Europe. Exactly the opposite – it would only increase geopolitical balance within EU’s regions and have a positive effect on security.»

An external investment transparency system, according to the MEP, should not come down to it being abused and negatively affecting investments in small EU member states, he explains.

«We have to be careful towards member states’ attempts to centralize the flow of Chinese investments in EU. During recent visit to China, the French president mentioned that his country is becoming a new entry point for Chinese investments. Such an approach is not in Latvia’s interests. Without a doubt, external investments for Latvia are important to ensure economic growth, jobs and welfare in order for the country to reach an average European level of welfare. At the same time, we have to be vigilant and certain investments do not hide risks that could affect our security. I think a correct and functioning system would help us separate wheat from the chaff,» Zīle concluded.


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