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Ceturtdiena 13.12.2018 | Name days: Veldze, Lūcija
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BNN summary of the week: influenza epidemic in Latvia; Germany vs. European Commission

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Business; Proposal; Decline; Recommendation; Future.

CHANGE: government asked to extend notification period for place of residence abroad

Saeima’s Citizenship, Migration and Social Cohesion Committee has decided to ask the Cabinet of Ministers to extend the period of time within which residents are obligated to report their registered place of residence in foreign countries, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

The committee will ask the Cabinet of Ministers to extend the period of time to three months instead of the current one month period.

Previously, European Latvians Union’s representative informed members of the Saeima about certain problems members of Latvian diaspora face when registering their place of residence abroad with Latvia’s Population Register. One problem mentioned by the representative is the short period of time given to individuals to register their place of residence with the institution. This period of time should be extended, said the union’s representative, adding that citizens of EU member states have the right to remain in other member states for a period of up to three months with the only requirement for them is having a valid passport.

Full article here

FIGHT: conflict brewing between European Parliament and Germany about Nord Stream 2

Germany’s decision to permit Gazprom to build Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in its territorial waters is against European Parliament’s position on this matter. A serious conflict is in the works between EP and Germany. So it is possible there could be even more opposition against Nord Stream 2, says MEP Krišjānis Kariņš from the People’s Party in the European Parliament.

Kariņš reminds that members of the parliament have always been against this project. They have invited the European Commission and member states to halt this project on multiple occasions. At the same time, the parliament is currently actively working on amendments to the Directive on Gas to ensure European Commission has a real weapon to stop this project.

Full article here

BUSINESS: airBaltic commences cooperation with Air Malta

Latvian airline airBaltic and Malta’s national airline Air Malta have signed an agreement for joint flights. This partnership will provide airBaltic passengers with the opportunity to reach Malta from airports around Europe and travel to other destinations around the world from Malta.

Air Malta will provide passengers with better connectivity in Baltic States and Eastern Europe, airBaltic reports.

«We are happy to work with Air Malta. It will help us improve our strong cooperation network with other airlines. All of this will provide convenient travel arrangements for our passengers. This new cooperation agreement will improve airBaltic services in Malta and Baltic States, allowing passengers to travel using this route through airports in Vienna, Brussels, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London, Geneva, Zurich and others,» says airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss.

Full article here

PROPOSAL: Ratas encourages EU to look into dropping annual switch summer time

Estonian head of government Jüri Ratas has voiced his support to the idea of the EU dropping the European Summer Time in accordance to which clocks are turned by one hour forward from spring to fall in the majority of EU member states.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports, citing Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht, that Ratas pointed to researchers having found negative affects people’s health and sleep cycles due to the turning of the clocks two times a year.

Full article here

DECLINE: does transit face a hard landing in Latvia?

The fact that Latvia’s ports will feel the pressure from cargo decline even more was clear since the exchange of sanctions between the European Union and Russia. Consequences to this are still present. Some industries have felt this more than others. One of the industries that have suffered the most is Latvia’s transit industry, as reported by ventspilnieks.lv portal.

Russia continues diverting more and more of its cargoes to its own ports, rather than ports of Baltic States. This is demonstrated by the compilation of last year’s indexes: turnover of cargoes at Russian ports had grown to reach 787 million tonnes last year, which is 9% more when compared with the year before. Latvia, on the other hand, suffered a 2% decline for cargo turnover, as reported by the portal.

This year is unlikely to be fruitful for cargo turnover either, and there are several reasons for that. The main objective is at least maintaining the current turnover volume and continuing the search for other solutions.

Last year, Latvian ports handled a total of 61,877 million tonnes of cargoes, which is 2% less when compared with 2016, according to data published by Transport Ministry. The largest turnover was recorded for bulk cargo segment: 33.362 million tonnes were transshipped, which is a 1.7% increase. The volume of coal cargoes handled by Latvian ports reached 17,591 million tonnes, which is 5.2% more than the year before. Still, a positive tendency was demonstrated by large turnover numbers at the beginning of the year, when Russian ports simply could not handle the volume of cargoes coming in, which forced them to divert to other ports, including ones in Latvia.

Full article here

COOPERATION: Lithuania seeks to deepen economic ties with Georgia

Lithuanian head of government Saulius Skvernelis has went on a visit to Georgia, where in talks with his Georgian counterpart Giorgi Kvirikashvili he has discussed ways to expand economic relations between the two friendly nations.

Georgian news website Georgia Today reported that after their meeting Skvernelis said in a press conference that Georgia has made a lot of progress in terms of reforms and the implementation of Association Agreement with the EU: «Georgia absolutely deserves the title of the Eastern Partnership leader, and we are sure that Georgia will maintain its leading position. This is the result of sustained efforts of the Government of Georgia, and we will always support Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration».

Full article here

RECOMMENDATION: people with flu should remain indoors for the duration of influenza epidemic

People suffering from influenza or other illnesses of the upper respiratory system should stay home and contact their family doctor as soon as the first symptoms appear to commence treatment as soon as possible, as noted by State Emergency Medical Service (SEMS).

SEMS director Liene Cipule notes: «An ambulance does not provide medical assistance in situations when people have the flu or other kind of respiratory illness. Our goal is providing medical assistance in situations when people’s lives are in danger. In most cases when residents call us, they need a family doctor’s consultation. 97% of cases involving acute respiratory illnesses are in the hands of family doctors. Treatment should be started as soon as possible to avoid future complications.»

Full article here

FUTURE: growth will continue, but ‘overheating’ risk will remain for businesses

In its latest rating, Coface international credit risks insurance company has upgraded ratings for Ukraine, Georgia, and Netherlands. Experts say there is a possibility of businesses overheating. That and political tension will be among the main business risks in 2018.

According to the new business risk rating, global trade growth has had a very positive effect on multiple open economy countries. Indexes have been improved for Netherlands (A1), South Korea (A2) and Taiwan (A2) in this quarter. With consumers’ and businesses’ confidence gradually returning, the business environment is set to improve in Greece as well. Indexes of Baltic States remain unchanged – A3 or satisfactory for Latvia and Lithuania. Estonia’s index is A2.

In spite of high political risks, Coface has improved indexes for Ukraine (C), Georgia (B) and Moldova (C). Kazakhstan’s business environment has benefited from growing oil collection and investments in China’s New Silk Way project. Risk assessment has been downgraded for Saudi Arabia (C), where increasing political tension hurts the business environment. In addition, economy of the Middle Eastern country relies a great deal on oil prices, which remain volatile.

Coface experts mention that three main business risks in 2018 are associated with overheating in developed countries, bank crisis risk in China, as well as political risks around the world. 2018 will be a year of elections for many countries, especially in Russia and Mexico, where high political risks are maintained by risks of social instability.

Full article here

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European Parliament ratifies EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

On Wednesday, 12 December, gave green light for EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which is EU’s all-time largest mutual trade agreement.

Businessman Māris Martinsons brought to court. What will the court decide?

Businessman Māris Martinsons has been brought to testify in court. As it is known, he was detained by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on 11 December.

Employers become more open to 3rd level pension contributions

Employers in Latvia have begun making more active contributions to 3rd level pension plans. Residents’ interest towards crating pension savings continues growing, too. Compared to the period of last year, the size of contributions to private pension funds has increased 10% in the first nine months of 2018.

Polish PM to call confidence vote

Polish head of government has voiced plans to call for a confidence vote to test parliamentary support for the ruling Law and Justice party cabinet.

30 searches and 8 detainees in Rīgas satiksme criminal case

In November 2018, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau commenced a criminal process in relation to procurements performed by Riga municipality’s SIA Rīgas satiksme. More than thirty searches were performed as part of the criminal process on Tuesday, 11 December.

Lithuania adopts budget, not raising pay to protesting teachers

The Lithuanian Seimas has passed the state budget for 2019, which includes more funds for defence, while not taking into account the funding demands of striking teachers.

Corruption watchdog detains Rīgas satiksme official Igors Volkinšteins

Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has detained municipal company Rīgas satiksme’s Infrastructure Maintenance and Development Department’s director Igors Volkinšteins.

Court: Estonia's ruling party fails to avoid repayment of 220 000 euro donation

Centre Party, which is the ruling political force in the Estonian central government and in the capital Tallinn, has failed to overturn a decision that ordered it to repay an illegally received donation of 220 000 euros, according to a ruling of the Estonian Supreme Court.

Minister: Brexit cannot be a reason to reduce cohesion volume for next EU multi-year budget

«Brexit cannot serve as a reason to reduce the volume of direct payments in cohesion and common agriculture policy in the next European Union’s multi-year budget,» says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister EdgarsRinkēvičs.

British conservatives mobilise for no-confidence vote against PM May

Angered by the decision to defer the Brexit deal ratification vote in the British parliament, fellow members of the British Conservative Party are rallying support for a no-confidence vote to remove Prime Minister Theresa May from power.

Corruption watchdog performs searches at Riga City Council

Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has performed a search at Riga City Council, as confirmed by Riga Vice-Mayor Andris Ameriks.

France searches for Strasbourg gunman after shooting attack

In France, large numbers of police are involved in the search for a gunman, who has killed three people and injured 12 more in Strasbourg.

Latvian president announces amendments to divert EUR 8.3 million for EMS

Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis has announced amendments for the Saeima’s Law on Budget and Financial Management to include diversion of EUR 8.3 million to the Emergency Medical Service, as mentioned in the official publication in Latvian Herald.

New Unity representative mentioned as possible compromise prime minister candidate

During their meetings with Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis, representatives of certain parties mentioned New Unity leader Krišjānis Kariņš as a potential prime minister candidate, according to information from LTV.

Access to KGB documents will require personal code

On Tuesday, 11 December, Latvian government approved changes to the Cabinet of Ministers requirements, introducing the order under which access to KGB documents published on the website of Latvian National Archive will be provided to those interested in them, as reported by Culture Ministry.

Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize calls for action against sexual violence

The laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize 2018, a doctor from Congo, has urged the international community act against sexual violence at war and consumers to be responsible, when buying electronic products, including smartphones.

Saeima to not view draft on halting Bank of Latvia governor’s authority

On Tuesday, 11 December, Latvian Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee decided not to proceed with 12th Saeima’s proposed amendments to the Law on the Bank of Latvia that provide the option for halting the powers of the governor of the Bank of Latvia for the duration of criminal processes.

Exports in Latvia up 13.3% in October

In October 2018 the foreign trade turnover of Latvia amounted to EUR 2.66 billion, which at current prices was 13.3 % more than in October 2017, of which the exports value of goods was 6.8 % and imports value of goods was 18.8 % higher.

Estonia sees rise in fire victims, as flats more prone to lethal fires

The death toll of fires in Estonia in 2018 has surpassed that of the two previous years in the past eleven months with all lethal fires occurring in flats this year. On the upside, from January to November 2018, a total of 74 people have been rescued from fires.

Pharmacy owners: compensated medicines should be supplied with reserves

Medicine manufacturers should supply state compensated medicines with a small reserve, says chairman of Pharmacy Owners Association Jānis Lībķens.

Estonia urges EU to react with actions against Russia's aggression

Dangerous behaviour by Russia in neighbouring countries must be met with concrete steps, Estonian Foreign Ministrer Sven Mikser has stated after a sitting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which included a meeting with Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin.

Latvia submits report to UN on elimination of discrimination of women

The United Nations Organization has been presented with Latvia’s report on compliance with Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

May defers doomed Brexit vote, rushes to European capitals

British Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Germany's Angela Merkel Tuesday as she works to salvage her Brexit deal, the day after delaying a parliamentary vote on it to avoid a crushing defeat.

Latvian politicians still see way to agree on new government

In spite of the failed second attempt at forming a government, Latvian politicians say there are still ways they can reach an agreement. At the same time, parties maintain their respective red lines, according to representatives of parties.

Marcon makes tax concessions, 'yellow vests' calling for continued protests

French President Emmanuel Macron, seeking to calm the 'yellow vest' mass protests, has made major tax and pay concessions, but plans to keep his climate-saving policy straight.

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