By Alla Petrova
December 7, 2014
On Friday, December 5, the Prime Ministers of three Baltic States met in the Baltic Council of Ministers in Maardu (Estonia) to review recent progress in implementing the joint regional projects of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The attention was mainly given to information technology, energy, transport infrastructure, as well as security issues, reports BC press secretary to Latvian Prime Minister Aiva Rozenberga.
Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma, Prime Minister of Estonia Taavi Rõivas and Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevicius agreed on the following – the Baltic States enjoy very good cooperation, and all the major issues relating to work on energy independence of the Baltic States, innovative digital solutions for even more efficient and speedy cooperation among the countries and citizens, are solved at practical level. The common security and defence issues of the Baltic States were also discussed.
During the meeting the Joint Statement of the Prime Ministers of the Baltic States was adopted, which highlights these cooperation issues.
“The good news is that there is no bad news in the Baltic co-operation; we continue to actively cooperate at practical level in all priority areas. Today’s Joint Statement of the Prime Ministers means new tasks for our ministries and civil servants,” said L. Straujuma at the press conference.
Within the framework of today’s meeting, the Prime Ministers of Estonia and Lithuania confirmed to L. Straujuma that the priorities of Latvia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union are very significant for the whole future of Europe. The Prime Minister of Latvia emphasized – Latvia will make every effort to conclude all normative acts during the presidency, which would allow for approval of the Investment Plan, opening new opportunities for economic growth for the states and residents of the European Union.
The Prime Minister of Latvia congratulated Lithuania on the opening of LNG terminal in Klaipeda, and Estonia on the progress in negotiations with Finland on the plans relating to construction of LNG terminal, because it is a concrete step towards energy independence of the Baltic States.
L. Straujuma invited the Baltic Prime Ministers to the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Forum to be held on June 15 -16 in Jurmala. The Prime Minister of Latvia invited the Estonian colleague to visit subgroup games of the European Basketball Championship where, according to the draw, the Estonian team will also participate. L. Straujuma also congratulated Lithuania on the forthcoming accession to the euro area in 2015.
In Estonia, EY has also predicted economic expansion is on the cards in the next few years. The nation is expected to have undergone 1.8 per cent growth this year, followed by 2.7 per cent in 2015. This figure is forecast to continue to rise, reaching four per cent by 2018.
While tensions between Russia and Ukraine will have a negative impact on Estonia’s trade, its export market is expected to remain “relatively upbeat”. EY predicts the volume of goods leaving the country will reach peak growth of 8.5 per cent in 2016, before dipping down to 7.5 per cent two years later.
Like its Baltic neighbours, forestry is a key part of the Estonian economy and the expected rise in export levels should have a positive impact on the industry. Earlier this year, the Estonian Institute of Economic Research raised its growth forecast for the country to two per cent.