EU needs to strengthen capacity to protect against geopolitical storms - Mierina

  • 2024-04-08
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - To protect against geopolitical storms, the EU's capacity to act needs to be strengthened, Saeima Speaker Daiga Mierina (Greens/Farmers) said in her opening remarks at the international conference "EU negotiations 2024: EU as a Safe Home in Today's Geopolitical Landscape" on Monday.

Mierina noted that today, as we look back on twenty years of Latvia's membership of the EU, it is appropriate to take stock of the state of affairs in the EU, but it is equally important to look at the changing environment around us and to be able to define policies and actions that are appropriate to the existing circumstances and that contribute to the security of the EU. 

The Saeima speaker said that while protection against geopolitical headwinds is guaranteed by a strong transatlantic partnership, for decades the EU has served as a safe home for its citizens, contributing to the economic growth of its member states and the prosperity of its citizens. In her view, the EU's security formula was seemingly simple: economic cooperation and economic interdependence eliminate the possibility of military confrontation, both between the bloc's members and with its external economic partners.

"This unshakable belief in the success of such a security formula has always and everywhere served as a justification for absolutely minimal investment in our defense capabilities. Just enough to prevent them from atrophying. Despite the many and long-lasting indications that  some countries outside the EU value community see the economy as a geopolitical battlefield and the military as a tool of inter-state relations, there has been a stubborn adherence to the status quo for too long", Mierina said.

She added that the realization that the policy of economic interdependence, which had been consistently built, had been instrumentalized and turned into a weapon against ourselves, was obviously hard to accept. According to Mierina, only now have we begun to realize that in order to defend against geopolitical storms, the EU's capacity to act should be bolstered. In her view, we are beginning to realize the need, the ability to define our strategic interests together and the necessary political will to act together on foreign and security policy, as we ourselves envisaged back in 2007 in the Lisbon Treaty, because without it we are creating vulnerabilities for our home that our systemic rivals and aggressor states are keen to exploit.

"The shift towards geopolitical thinking is slow but profound. At the EU level, we have introduced, among other things, investment screening and risk mitigation in trade with third countries. To finance growth after the pandemic, we decided on joint borrowing, a step that was unthinkable before. Now it is a reality. In response to Russian aggression, we are increasing the pressure of sanctions, we have substantially reduced our dependence on Russia and continue to do so," said Mierina.

The Saeima speaker drew attention to the current use of EU funds for military needs and joint military procurement to provide military support to Ukraine. She noted that the EU's enlargement policy, reactivated thanks to Russian aggression, was certainly one example of geopolitical thinking. 

"This change of mindset is making our common EU home ever stronger. To pursue our strategic interests, we need to be able to act even more decisively, not only to reduce vulnerabilities in the fabric of our home, but also to be able to influence the environment around us all. Colleagues, as we look back on our own twenty years in the EU, it is with immense satisfaction and gratitude that we must acknowledge the clear choice and tireless work of the Latvia's society on our far from easy path to EU membership," said Mierina.

The Saeima speaker stressed that today we are even more acutely aware of the importance of Latvia's belonging to the Euro-Atlantic space. She stressed that we can compare economic indicators, such as a fourfold increase in gross domestic product or average wages, but it is Latvia's belonging to a common area of security and values that is most important. In her view, this safe home has allowed Latvia to grow and develop, and democratic values and principles have become deeply rooted in our society over these twenty years. Mierina stressed that Latvia is not and will never be a grey area of security.