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SPEECH/11/655

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso after the meeting with Mr Andris Berzins, President of Latvia

Press Point

Brussels, 12 October 2011

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome President Andris Berzins to the European Commission.

This was the President's first visit here to the Commission since his election in June of this year. I want to warmly congratulate him on that victory. I am looking forward to working with him over the coming years.

We had a useful discussion today on the economic situation in the European Union and in Latvia in particular.

After several years as the fastest-growing economy in the European Union, in 2008 and 2009 Latvia suffered the deepest recession experienced by any Member State.

Since then, I am pleased to note that Latvia's economy has staged a rapid recovery. Growth is accelerating. Unemployment is falling steadily. Public finances are being brought firmly back under control.

This turnaround has happened thanks to Latvia's determined implementation of the fiscal, financial sector and also the structural reforms the country committed to in January 2009, when agreement was reached with the EU and the IMF on a medium-term financial assistance package.

Latvia's performance is an impressive demonstration to other Member States how completely – I would say, dramatically – a country can transform its growth prospects if it embraces ambitious reform. It is not easy, but it can be done.

It is essential now that Latvia maintains the momentum. I know that Latvia hopes to join the euro in 2014. The President just confirmed this to me. The Commission will assess in due course whether the country meets the adoption conditions, and does so on a sustainable basis.

President Berzins and I also discussed the next Multiannual Financial Framework and aspects of particular interest to Latvia, notably our proposals for the future of cohesion and agricultural policy, some of them we just presented today in terms of the regulation for agricultural policy.

On this subject, I stressed that the Commission wishes to engage in a serious and constructive discussion with all Member States and that we are taking full account of all positions expressed. The President told me what are the specific concerns of Latvia. I promised him that the Commission will look at those concerns in a constructive spirit during the negotiation process.

On these and the other key issues we have on our agenda for the coming months, I am looking forward to continuing our fruitful dialogue with the President of Latvia and with the Latvian authorities.

And on that note let me hand over the floor to President Berzins, once again telling him how pleased I am to meet him personally and thanking him for the visit he paid to the Commission.


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