Video address by Dr. Andris Sprūds, Director of LIIA

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and friends - welcome! This Friday in the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia a wide discussion about the European Union - challenges and opportunities, future scenarios, and about the suggestions, recommendations, and proposals will take a place. About that all, what we can do together because we are the European Union!
This conference  "Baltic EU Conversations 2019" is organized by the Latvian Institute of International Affairs in close cooperation with the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia and the European Commission Representation in Latvia. It is an annual conference, which gathers top-tier experts, facilitates interesting and dynamic discussions, which are able to provide a variety of proposals.
The European Union is like a Riga - it is always under construction. The European Union has been very effective and successful in many ways - it is the most effective peace-keeping operation in the history of humanity, and it also serves as a guarantee of development and welfare. It has secured the integration of Baltic States in the EU and collectively shaping the future cooperation between states. 
At the same time, the European Union faces certain challenges, both internally and externally. Externally, we have fairly aggressive neighbors, internally we face a string of negative, unfavorable tendencies.  About the Brexit saga we hear on a daily basis, and it is still unclear how and when it will end. The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), finances have to be divided, the money issue is always important for inter-state relations. Also, elections of the European Parliament, which will take place in May, raise a question of where Europe is heading? Whether it is in the direction of populism, or will this collaboration of nations continue constructively and effectively as it has been so far?
The discussion about the European Union is important to all of us because we are the European Union. At the same time, this project - EU is always taking place in our minds. How will we look, how we will perceive and to whom we will believe?  What kind of ideas we will put on the table — all of this will determine what the future of the European Union will look like.
So, everyone is welcome to participate, to get involved by listening and asking questions. The live stream will be available on Delfi.lv, and the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia and the Latvian Institute of International Affairs websites. There are many opportunities to follow along, to ask questions, and to think along because all of us together are forming the European Union! We look forward to seeing you on Friday! 

Published 03 April 2019