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Latvian MEPs: EU faced many serious challenges this year

Roberts Zīle/flickr.com.
The European Union has faced many different serious challenges this year, including Brexit, elections in Germany and France, migration crisis and EU budget, as noted by European Parliament members.

MEP Roberts Zīle says that Europe’s biggest challenge in 2017 was the euphoria that followed the victory of Emmanuel Macron in France’s presidential election and the outcome of elections in Germany. After those elections there was a tangible desire to push the EU towards a federative direction. This push still continues, especially considering the planned debates about European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposed scenarios for the future, the MEP says.

«Protectionism was also a major challenge – the restriction of the unified market in the service section, starting from construction, where Macron managed to divide both the Visegrad Group and Balkans. Migration affairs were also topical – another escalation took place at the end of the year, when EC Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos made unacceptable conclusions in regards to European Council President Donald Tusk words that the mandatory quotas for asylum seekers causes disagreements and is generally ineffective,» said Zīle.

MEP Artis Pabriks said that it was possible to resolve the first stage of Brexit talks, adding that there is still a lot left to do. According to him, EU has yet to resolve migration challenges, because even though Frontex agency was formed to safeguard EU borders and coastline, no real agreement was reached in the end to resolve the migration crisis.

«In addition, there has been an increase in internal disagreements among Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria. Considering the latest decisions made against Poland, specifically the unprecedented legal procedure initiated by the European Commission, it is likely internal disagreements will remain next year,» said the MEP.

Saeima’s Budget Commission member Inese Vaidere mentioned the formation of the EU budget and analysis of the multi-year finance plan as Europe’s biggest challenge in 2017. She said it is great that it was possible to find additional finances for security, agriculture and fight against youth unemployment. She also expressed satisfaction that money was also provided to two of her pilot projects: for more effective fight against Russia’s disinformation and the study of differences between products sold on the EU Single market.

«One major accomplishment is also that the European Parliament has made decisions to make online content locked behind subscription accessible in all EU member states regardless of which country users applied for subscription. The European Parliament’s approved the plan for free Wi-Fi access points in public places will not give Latvia anything, because our country is already one of the leading countries internet accessibility-wise,» said Vaidere.

Brexit was mentioned by the MEP as one of the biggest challenges. In this case, EU can be satisfied with progressed achieved in talks. She also said that important decisions were made in the field of security, with new requirements for the fight against terrorism and new firearms directive for the EU.

«Estonia’s presidency in the EU has been successful, because our neighbours have also learned much from our own experience. As for areas in which not much progress was made, we could mention the regulation regarding roaming, which allows EU citizens to travel to other member states and pay for calls, text messages and data transfer at the same prices as they do in their home countries, which is a good thing. However, this has led to tariff increase in some countries,» said Vaidere, adding that 2017 was generally successful for Europe.


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