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Friday 27.04.2018 | Name days: Tāle, Raimonda, Raina, Klementīne
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Week in Lithuania. EC calls on Lithuania to transpose EU in-vitro fertilization legislation

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

A nurse works on a micromanipulator machine (used for fertilization)

The European Commission has asked Lithuania to transpose provisions of EU directives on quality and safety standards for medical procedures involving reproductive cells.

The EC Representation in Lithuania said in a statement on Thursday, July 16, that the Lithuanian law transposing the directives does not apply to medical procedures involving reproductive cells, although such procedures may be carried out in the country between spouses.

This represents a public health concern, as medical procedures involving reproductive cells, such as in-vitro fertilization, carried out in Lithuania, are, as a consequence, not compliant with the safety and quality standards required by EU law. Lithuania has now two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to remedy this situation. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Lithuania to the Court of Justice of the European Union. There’s no law on artificial insemination in Lithuania, and inseminations procedures are carried out only at private medical establishment operating under the health minister’s decree of 1999.

Medium speed cams installed on Lithuanian highways

Lithuania’s police have commenced installing on the country’s high-ways speed cameras that record a vehicle’s medium speed in a certain section, rather than its instant speed. The first such cameras have been installed in a five-kilometre section on the Via Baltica highway from the 29th kilometre from Kaunas to Marijampolė, Commissioner General of Lithuania’s Police Linas Pernavas said on Thursday, July 16.

Following a trial period, there are plans to expand the network of such cameras, he said.

«Developed EU members states have long concluded that it’s more effective to calculate the medium speed on the section of several or several dozen kilometres, rather that measuring the instant speed. The Via Baltica has been chosen for its high number of accidents as two people are killed in car accident on this road every week,» Pernavas told journalists on Thursday.

If approved by politicians, the police plan to install another dozen cameras in September-October. Later on, the police plans to propose to the government to increase the number of medium speed cameras in the country to« up to one hundred,» which will cost around 1 million euro.

Two CEOs detained for bribe attempt

Officials of Special Investigation Service (STT) detained two CEOs for an attempt to bribe an employee of the Lithuanian Competition Council (KT). The KT‘s employee refused to accept 14,000-euro bribe, an equivalent of the employee’s annual salary, in exchange for a favourable decision in a suspected bid rigging case. If bid rigging in a public procurement charges were presented and confirmed, serious sanctions could be applied to the companies involved: imposing a fine of up to 10 percent of the annual turnover and cancelling allocations of the EU financial support (up to 174,000 euro in this case).

«As the Chairman of Competition Council, I am extremely proud to work with both professional and honest colleagues. Taking this opportunity I would also like to remind all undertakings that leniency is a far much safer way to escape negative consequences of a competition probe,» says Šarūnas Keserauskas, Chairman of the Lithuanian Competition Council.

Lithuanian government approves Greece bailout talks

The Lithuanian government has approved on Thursday, July 16, the European Commission’s decision to negotiate along with the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund financial assistance to Greece under the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Six ministers voted in favour of the decision and two ministers, delegated by the Labour Party, which said before the meeting that its ministers would not back the proposed Greek bailout plan, abstained from voting. Six other members of the 14-strong Cabinet were not present at the meeting.

«The government authorized me to vote in the ESM governing council tomorrow in favour of opening negotiations with the Greek side on a concrete assistance agreement and its terms and conditions. This is our agreement to begin negotiations,» Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius told reporters after the Cabinet’s meeting.

EU Commissioner Andriukaitis on GM imports

The European Commission wants that EU member states themselves decide if to import genetically modified (GM) animal feed, just like they decide if to grow genetically modified organisms (GMO), EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said on Thursday, July 16.

«We think that countries themselves have to decide if they look at these problems really seriously and scientifically and based on economic and social calculations, or follow populist slogans, which are not a rarity in this field,» he told.

Andriukaitis said that if EU member states did not state their opinion, the European Commission would have to make the decision.

«Under existing regulation, member countries did not express their opinion and the European Commission has to adopt a decision all by itself. Then it is very easy to accuse the Commission of failing to take into account the public’s sceptical position on GM feed,» he said.

According to the Lithuanian commissioner, a decision to let each individual country to decide whether or not to import GM feed might cause problems to the food industry in some states. Currently, 25 EU member states import about 32 million tons of GM feed annually. Maize is currently the only GM crop allowed to be grown commercially in the EU. It is grown in five EU member states, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal and Romania. GM crops are not grown in Lithuania.

Seimas committee proposes establishing Ukraine aid fund

The Lithuanian Seimas’ Committee on European and Foreign Affairs has proposed setting up an aid fund for Ukraine.

The move comes after the committees endorsed the updated assistance plan for Ukraine. Gediminas Kirkilas, chairman of the Committee on European Affairs, told journalists on Wednesday, July 15, that it remains to be seen whether it will be e government fund or a public institution. The decision will be made after consultations with legal experts, he added.

«The establishment of an aid fund is the new thing. We will ask the government to make a small contribution and hope that that fund will be able to attract funds,» Kirkilas said. In his words, the fund will be set up in Lithuania as the European Union already has one. «The EU already has its fund and this one will be ours, Lithuania’s fund,» Kirkilas underlined.

Lithuanian and Latvian presidents discuss joint arms purchase

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis have met for talks in Vilnius this week. During their meeting both head-of-states have discussed, among other things, collective armaments purchase, in particular, jointly acquiring medium-range air defence systems.

According to Vējonis, joint purchase of air defence systems has great potential in the format of bilateral cooperation; however, cooperation of all three Baltic States and Poland in this area is no less important.

«We have discussed ways to enhance our joint military exercises. There are many good ideas, including the air defence field and purchase of missiles. We can see considerable potential for our cooperation,» Vējonis said, stressing that all purchases will have to be made in accordance with approved funding. President Grybauskaitė did not go into detail about the bilateral plans, but underlined that all potential purchases would have to be made in line with financial capabilities of all countries involved.

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Economist: Latvia’s future depends on people’s patience; politicians mostly focus on near future

«People in Latvia currently live better than they ever have. Still, income level in Western Europe and elsewhere in the world will remain higher for some time.» Which predictions about banking sector’s operations have come true, and what is going on with ‘pained child’ – Latvia’s judicial system? Luminor Bank’s economist Pēteris Strautiņš explains in an interview to BNN.

FCMC chief: ABLV Bank’s closure was not the goal of FinCEN report

The report published in February by US Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network about ABLV Bank was not prepared with the goal in mind to close the bank, said chief of Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission Pēters Putniņš at a public hearing organized by European Parliament’s TAX3 committee in Brussels.

Study: wages in Latvia grew more rapidly in 2017 than they did in previous years

As a result of economic growth and increasing labour force demand, remuneration level in Latvia in 2017 has reached the most rapid rate in the past several years. Average net wage in Latvia has increased by 6%, reaching EUR 894, according to results of a study performed by CV-Online Latvia.

Number of foreign travellers in Latvia up 53.2% in past seven years

In 2017, foreign travellers crossed the border of Latvia 7.7 million times, which is 13.7 % more than a year before. Last year, foreign travellers in Latvia spent EUR 691.9 million – EUR 46.7 million or 7.2 % more than in 2016.

Experts shocked about HIV patients’ reluctance to undergo treatment

The number of HIV patients that underwent treatment in Q1 2018 did not change in Latvia even though a considerable amount of funding was allocated from the state budget for HIV/AIDS treatment in 2018. This creates concerns about HIV patients’ use of healthcare services, according to Association HIV.LV.

Danske Bank to gradually cease servicing Baltic clients

In Baltic States, Danske Bank plans to focus solely on providing support to subsidiaries of Nordic clients, as well as global corporations with a considerable business portion in Nordic countries. Leaving private persons and local businesses servicing sector will be performed in a gradual manner, as reported by acting manager of Danske Bank’s Communication Office in Latvia Zane Strade.

Latvian Saeima establishes ban for banks to service shell companies

Banks registered in Latvia will no longer be allowed to work with shell companies and service their accounts. This is provided by amendments to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing approved by the Saeima on Thursday, 26 April, as confirmed by the parliament’s press-service.

Ex-minister: Latvia’s biggest problem is the older generation of politicians

Older generation of politicians is Latvia’s largest problem. Some of those people are due for retirement. This is why the main objective for ‘Kustība Par!’ is involving a new generation of young and perspective politicians, says the party’s leader Daniels Pavļuts.

Danske Bank may announce its exit from Baltic States

Danske Bank Group’s office in Lithuania may announce on Thursday, 27 April, its plans to leave Lithuania and, possibly, the Baltic States, as BNS news agency’s Lithuanian branch was told by two sources.

«Oligarch talks» publication law put on hold; will fabricated «risks» impact UGF?

On Tuesday, 25 April, Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee decided against putting up for a vote the legislative draft for the digitization and publication of the declassified portion of materials from the so-called oligarch talks criminal case.

OECD to perform independent audit of decisions made by Latvian supervisory services

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development plans to perform an independent audit of decisions made by the Finance Capital and Market Commission and Anti-money Laundering Service, as confirmed by Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola after a meeting of Finance Sector Development Council on 25 April.

Level of prices of agricultural products in Latvia grew 11.6% in 2017

The total price index of agricultural output in 2017 had increased by 11.6 %, which was mainly due to the rise in prices of livestock products of 25.8 %. The price index of crop products grew by 2.2 %.

51% of residents would not purchase goods production of which would pollute the environment

Environment-friendly lifestyle in Latvia, like elsewhere in the world, is becoming more popular every day. So-called green thinking also affects Latvian residents’ habits. 53% of Latvian residents prefer goods and services that help protect the environment, according to results of a study performed by AS Latvijas Zaļais punkts.

World Press Freedom index ranks Estonia highest among Baltic states

The French-based organisation Reporters Without Borders has published its 2018 World Press Freedom index, where Estonia has been ranked 12th and Latvia has been moved up by four positions to the 24th place.

Abu Meri: parliamentary investigative committee could help combat corruption in Riga City Council

«Nils Ušakovs’ policy in Riga is not only non-democratic but also allows for systematic corruption, which has become a tradition. If a week goes by with no scandal, it seems too long. Because of that, I consider forming a parliamentary investigative committee to study corruption in Riga City Council,» said Unity’s Saeima faction leader Hosams Abu Meri in an interview to BNN.

200 thousand Estonian e-mail passwords found leaked online

The global database of the illegally leaked passwords of tons of e-mail addresses contains passwords used by some 215 000 Estonian internet users.

Latvian EC Commissioner invites businesses to prepare for all Brexit scenarios

Businesses and supervisors should prepare for all possible Brexit scenarios, said Deputy Chairman of the European Commission on Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Market Union Valdis Dombrovskis participating in the ongoing finance forum City Week in the UK.

Latvia prepared to pay 4.8 million euros for participation in Expo 2020 in Dubai

Latvian government is prepared for participation in the international Expo 2020 in Dubai. Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis said after a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers this Tuesday that it is planned to allocate EUR 4.8 million for this venture.

Spanish resort city to prohibit renting apartments to tourists

Palma, the Spanish resort city in the Mediterranean island of Majorca, has adopted a restriction that apartment will be not allowed to rent their apartments to travellers, becoming the first place in Spain to introduce such a ban.

Supreme Court of Justice views Kristovskis’ claim against Ventspils City Council

On 25 April, the Administrative Cases Department of the Supreme Court of Justice will be viewing two claims submitted by Ventspils City Council deputy Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis against the city council. «The fact that the case will be viewed verbally and that the defendants include Ventspils City Council, EPRDM and Association of Local Governments is considered unique and unprecedented in Latvia’s court practice,» says Kristovskis.

Messaging app Whatsapp not to be available to under-16s in EU

The smartphone messaging app Whatsapp plans to raise the minimum age limit to its European Union users from 13 to 16 years, as it is adjusting its rules of use to the upcoming EU data privacy regulations.

Saeima speaker in Tallinn: EU and NATO cooperation in defence should be enhanced

Close cooperation between European Union and NATO in defence is now more important than ever. This is especially true for cyber security and hybrid-thread prevention, said Latvian Saeima’s speaker Ināra Mūrniece during a meeting of EU member states parliaments in Tallinn on Tuesday, 24 April.

Ministry avoids going against supporting parties; Ventspils City Council’s violations reported to court

Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has no influence at all, and sometimes it seems it has no desire to exercise its rights and perform its duties. This situation most likely appeared because the institution is led by a minister who represents a specific political party.

Warfare in Ukraine escalates, soldiers wounded

In the Donbas War that continues for the fifth year in the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, Russian hybrid forces have this week conducted a total of 44 attacks, wounding five soldiers, the Ukrainian military reports.

Demand for mortgage loans grew 53% in March

Increased demand for mortgage loans with state guarantees was observed in Latvia in March. Nearly every other loan application filed last month was intended for housing purchase using Altum guarantee. The largest amount of interest came from families with children, as reported by Citadele Bank.