RIGA - The European Union (EU) must strengthen the economies of the member states by securing investment and promoting solidarity between members to overcome the consequences of Covid-19, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) emphasized in an interview on CNN International's Quest Means Business on Wednesday.
"The [Covid-19] crisis is fundamentally different from the crisis we experienced more than 10 years ago, which required us to tighten spending limits. Latvia is borrowing money and investing in the economy, and other countries are doing the same. We are implementing a series of reforms to make the public administration much more efficient and improve the business environment," said Karins.
He also pointed out the need to think about investment and national solidarity on the EU level during these challenging time. "We are moving in this direction, as evidenced by the European Commission's proposal to create a EUR 750 billion economic recovery fund," said Karins.
The prime minister also added that it is also very important to agree on the investment of these funds wisely, so that the EU economies would be much stronger in the aftermath of the crisis than before the pandemic, as most of these investments are in the form of loans, which will have to be repaid eventually.
Speaking about Latvia's experience in the fight against Covid-19, the prime minister emphasized that by purposefully controlling the spread of Covid-19, the government has consistently listened to the opinion of scientists and epidemiologists.
"When it was necessary to introduce restrictions, we did this. When we had to implement the 'two and two' principle, we did this before we saw our first victim from the coronovirus. We acted quickly by listening to experts. When the situation improved, we gradually reduced the restrictions, which, of course, benefit the economy, but we did this only after listening to the opinion of experts,'' Karins said.
When asked about travel restrictions, Karins said that Latvia initially created a safe travel bubble with Estonia and Lithuania, which has now actually expanded almost within the entire EU. At present, the EU is gradually extending this bubble with countries recognized as epidemiologically safe, meaning the Covid-19 prevalence is at around the EU average.
''We are following the situation outside Latvia and elsewhere in the world very closely and understand that a new wave of infection can occur at any time. We are ready, if necessary, to return to the previous restrictions at any time to halt the spread of the infection. We are clearly aware that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over," Karins emphasized.