Latvia is probably one of the least known countries of the European Union. It is certainly one of the smallest and, unfortunately, one of the poorest. So Latvia’s presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers, during the first half of 2015, will test its resilience and resourcefulness.
- Latvia’s fresh start
- Latvia: stability amid the flux
- Low birth rate locks in Latvia’s demographic destiny
- Latvia: populate or perish
- Latvia: leading on austerity
Latvia was a frontrunner on reform and is now a frontrunner for growth. Its new challenge is to lead other countries towards both.
Domestic consensus on the need for stability should prevent Latvia’s political volatility from undermining its presidency.
The economic downturn has also had a negative effect on the birth-rate in Latvia.
The tide of young, educated Latvians leaving the country is creating a skills shortage which poses a threat to the country’s economic recovery.
Latvia’s liberalised economy has enjoyed some of the strongest growth in the eurozone, but pressure is growing on the government to improve services for citizens.
- Latvia's environmental ambition Latvia has some impressive achievements on the environment, but inconsistency has marred its record.
- Latvian citizens caught in the EU-Russia crossfire The large ethnic-Russian minority poses a political challenge for its own representatives as well as the government.
- Latvia in purple Latvia needs to be better connected to Europe’s energy networks, but its vulnerability can be over-stated.
- Laimdota Straujuma: Latvia's prime minister Mini-profile of Latvia's prime minister.
- Dana Reizniece-Ozola: Latvia's economics minister Mini profile of Latvia's economics minister.
- Jānis Dūklavs: Latvia's agriculture minister Mini profile of Latvia's agriculture minister.
- Jānis Reirs: Latvia's finance minister Mini profile of Latvia's finance minister.
- Edgars Rinkēvičs: Latvia's foreign minister Mini profile of Latvia's foreign minister.
- Anrijs Matīss: Latvia's minister of transport Mini profile of Latvia's minister for transport.
- Small country, big agenda Latvia faces some daunting tasks in a period of fast-changing policy.
- The agenda for Latvia The first half of 2015 holds some challenges for the Latvian government.
This timely special report takes as its starting point the declared ambition of the EU – both the European Council and the new European Commission to create a digital single market, seen as essential for Europe’s economic recovery. The EU seeks to regulate emerging industries in such a way that it encourages a single market and stimulates growth while at the same time safeguarding consumers.
- Regulating the digital economy: in search of a breakthrough
- Who’s who in the digital world
- Walking the tightrope on telecoms infrastructure
The European Commission has suggested ambitious reforms of the EU’s digital sector, but will need a new strategy if it is to push them through.
A rundown of those regulating the digital economy.
Having the physical infrastructure in place is key to creating a digital single market. But investment could come at the expense of competition.
- New tax rules take aim at cross-border digital sales Reforms to the way in which the value added tax is paid by digital companies selling their wares across borders are designed to clamp down on tax minimisation ruses. Yet they may also prove a headache for small online businesses.
- Europe’s virtual border-guards create e-commerce roadblocks A borderless Europe is still a dream for companies selling their wares online, with cross-border purchases attracting a range of regulatory and practical obstacles.
- The importance of trust With EU citizens expected to conduct so much of their business online, securing personal data is vital.
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- An avoidable assassin: deflecting cardiovascular disease
- Cardiovascular disease: fighting for survival
As well as killing millions of Europeans every year, CVD imposes a major economic burden.
Effective treatments have been available for many years, but much more needs to be done at a policy level.
This report is funded by AstraZeneca. It is based on independent research undertaken by European Voice. AstraZeneca has had no editorial control over the content.
- Cardiovascular disease: getting to the very heart of the matter In six EU countries costs of cardiovascular disease are estimated at just over €102bn.
- Cardiovascular disease: the global impact About two-thirds of global deaths are due to non-communicable diseases.
- Secondary prevention National planning failures and lack of funds are among the reasons for divergent outcomes in Europe and beyond.
- Cardiovascular disease: a guide through the guidelines There are so many guidelines available that doctors find it difficult to keep abreast of the latest recommendations.
The European Commission is reviewing the European Union’s rules on copyright. This timely special report discusses what is at stake, who stands to lose and to gain, and explains why.
- Copyrights and wrongs
- Who are copyright holders?
- A short history of EU copyright reform plans
Reform of the EU’s copyright rules has been a hot topic for years, but with no effect. That may be about to change.
Copyright is big business for Europe, and its scope extends far beyond authors and performers.
Aborted reforms and bitter divisions over copyright are not new, nor is the need to update copyright law as technology changes.
- Copyright: old rules in a digital age Technological advances have put Europe’s copyright laws to the test.
- Copyright: a cross-border conundrum Being able to gain access to content in one country but not another is frustrating for consumers and legislators alike.
- Copyright winners and losers An ongoing competition case could force member states to clarify their positions on copyright reform.
- Copyright – defending creativity Most stakeholders agree that authors and performers are under-remunerated under the current system, but there is disagreement over how to respond.
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European Voice’s special report examines how climate change policy is developing outside the confines of inter-governmental talks. Increasingly, the private sector is shaping climate-change thinking – and arguably to greater effect.
- Climate change: after the cold snap Combating climate change has slipped way down as a priority for many politicians and companies. A major climate summit could change that.
- Anatomy of a climate deal EU leaders have made a commitment to cut emissions, but the deal is riddled with compromises.
- Climate change: the long road to Paris Paris 2015 is the big international climate summit, but much of its success rests on a meeting in Peru later this year.
- Climate champion Connie Hedegaard moves on The first European commissioner dedicated to climate change, whose term ended on 1 November, says there have been victories and frustrations over her five years in office.
- Forests face the brunt of changes in the weather An increased likelihood of prolonged drought, extreme storms and flooding will pose a serious challenge for Europe’s forests.
- Private sector picks up the pieces Many regional governments and businesses have played their part in tackling climate change.
Establishing a strategic healthcare policy for the European Union.
- Healthcare: old problems, new threats
- Paying the price for ill-health
- Advancing technology in healthcare
- The healthcare sector's budgetary breakdown
Healthcare systems across Europe were feeling the pressure long before the Ebola crisis imposed new strains.
How to get better value in healthcare – and to ease disparities between health systems in member states – is driving healthcare thinking in the EU.
Technology has brought a sudden wave of new routes to transforming healthcare, but can doctors and patients keep up with innovation?
The EU is taking a much greater role in making sure member states spend more wisely on healthcare, while also balancing the books.
- Teamwork helps improve healthcare treatment Failings in the EU’s response to the 2011 avian flu pandemic have led to a greater level of co-operation among member states.
- The downward spiral of health inequality
- Resource inefficiency in healthcare
- Power to the patients Patients’ groups are having more of a say over healthcare, but that may be only part of the answer.
- How much is too much when paying for healthcare? National health authorities take very different views on the price, availability and effectiveness of medicines.
- Cheap, but not cheerful drug-pricing
- Out with the old health policy
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- Erasmus+ means more mobility The structure of the Erasmus programme has changed, giving students more opportunities to study abroad.
- Bologna looks to the future A review of the Bologna process for higher education reform is long overdue.
- Knowledge alliances roll out across Europe Commission searches for projects that bring together higher education and the workplace.
- Studying the EU at a distance Students as far afield as the United States and New Zealand are keeping a close eye on developments in the European Union.
On 10 September, Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled the most significant shake-up of the European Commission's organisational structure in years. Here is European Voice's take on the new Commission college.
- A brave (though flawed) attempt at a shake-up
- Juncker deals out the pack
- Juncker’s careful balancing act
Juncker has made a serious attempt at reform, but has taken several gambles.
Timmermans given significant powers as Juncker's right-hand man and changes made to Commission departments.
Juncker had to take many issues into consideration when assigning the Commission portfolios.
- Juncker's portfolio assignments: the reaction Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled his portfolio assignments today and announced a restructuring of the commission into teams. European Voice has been collecting the reactions.
- MEPs threaten to get tough Judging by early reactions there are some commissioner nominees who may face strong resistance in the Parliament.
- Juncker seeks greater control over foreign policy The high representative will move to the European Commission headquarters and half of her cabinet must be made up of Commission staff.
- Juncker's health plans drive a wedge between partners Commission reorganisation announcement prompts health NGO to pull out of plans to create a health intergroup in the European Parliament
- Juncker's plan would 'shut down environmental policy', campaigners warn Business groups have welcomed Juncker's new 'streamlined' Commission structure, but green campaigners have decried the loss of dedicated environment and climate commissioners.
- National media reaction to Juncker's allocation of portfolios While the division of some of the posts came as a surprise, the reaction from media in the member states has been largely positive.
Examining the world of public affairs in and around the EU.
- Public affairs is not an exact science
- A decade of change in EU public affairs
- Switching professions: politician to public affairs practitioner
Estimates put the number of lobbyists in Brussels at around 30,000 but calculations of their impact are still more vague.
Public affairs organisations have switched their focus to MEPs and changed their tactics to get the best results.
Do ex-MEPs become lobbyists because they are suited to the task, or because they are unsuitable for anything else?
- Cultural differences affect practices in the public affairs industry Lobbying in Brussels has developed into a unique practice incorporating the norms and regulations of other countries.
- Roman Catholic lobby Spurring the Roman Catholic lobby into action.
- Using social media in public affairs Creating grassroots momentum behind the reform of fisheries rules that was being proposed by the European Commission.
- Data protection and aggressive lobbying The moment that hard-nosed US lobbying arrived in Brussels.
- Making the public affairs sector more transparent The Joint Transparency Register has made the public affairs sector more open, but there are limits to what it can achieve.
- Public affairs: a small revolution, still turning Maros Sefcovic believes that there have been improvements to the conduct of public affairs around the EU.
Exploring EU migration, including what the statistics reveal, how member states are reacting to migration and the need for an EU model to manage it.
- Is the EU experiencing a great migration crisis?
Europeans are unhappy with their governments’ migration policy, and many are blaming the EU.
- Is EU migration getting out of control? The figures on asylum and other forms of migration in the EU are dramatic, but are they still manageable?
- Tough immigration rules threaten economic growth Growing skill shortages and an ageing working force pose problems for growth within the European Union, while emerging economies will ramp up competition for talent and labour.
- Migration: what the polls are saying Opinion polls provide a snapshot of Europe's anti-immigration mood.
- Finding a way to manage migration Trends and policies are converging, but no European model of management has yet emerged.
- Why citizenship matters when it comes to migration Rainer Bauböck, professor of social and political theory at the European University Institute in Florence, tells Toby Vogel why citizenship is an important factor in immigrant integration and outlines some recent changes to the concept of EU citizenship.