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The Future of Europe: Competitive, Sustainable and Thriving?

May 22
Riga Graduates School of Law, Strelnieku 4k-2

On May 22 the American, German, Norwegian and Swedish Chambers of Commerce hosted a pre-election debate in the run-up to the European Parliament election scheduled for June 6-9, 2024.  

Latvians along with millions of Europeans will have a chance to shape the future of the European Union. The Members of the European Parliament will formulate policies affecting both businesses and individuals, including those elected from Latvia. In a time of significant political and geopolitical tensions, the new European Parliament will need to address a myriad of issues starting from post-pandemic economic recovery to climate change and environmental sustainability, from increased security threats to digital transformation.

The debate focused on the vision and priorities of the parties to ensure a safe, competitive, sustainable, and prosperous Europe and Latvia as part of it. Joining the debate was the representatives from the most popular political parties according to the latest polls as of April.

Dr. Janis Ikstens, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Latvia and Visiting Professor of the Riga Graduate School of Law provided an overview of the political landscape and moderated the debate among the party representatives likely to be part of the next EU Parliament. 

The debate provided a unique platform for the international business community to directly engage in a discussion with the party representatives likely to be part of the next EU Parliament.

About the Speakers: 

Jānis Lazdāns (Jaunā Vienotība) is an experienced professional in Latvian public administration with over 20 years of diverse experience in both the private sector and local governments. He has led companies, served as a municipal executive director, worked in banks, and consulted various businesses. Lazdāns holds a bachelor's degree in engineering economics from Riga Technical University and has extensive experience in banking and real estate. He has been actively involved in real estate, dealing with sales, acquisitions, and insurance. Additionally, he is a member and former president of the Association of Latvian Castles, Palaces, and Manors.

Nils Ušakovs (Saskaņa) is a Latvian social democratic politician and chairman of the Social Democratic Party "Saskana". Since 2019, he is a Member of the EU Parliament working in the Committees on Budget and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. In 2009 he was elected Mayor of Riga and served in that position for 10 years. He graduated from the University of Latvia in Economics and obtained a postgraduate diploma in EU integration from the University of Southern Denmark. He speaks English, Russian and Latvian.

Elīna Pinto (Progresīvie) is a public administration professional with 20 years of experience in the service of national, EU and other international organizations. Furthermore, she has significantly contributed to the representation of civil interests in Latvia and at the European level. She believes in the creation of new, socially and environmentally responsible solutions for political, governance, economic and welfare challenges of today and tomorrow.

Roberts Zīle (Nacionālā apvienība) is a Latvian MEP for the National Alliance political party from Latvia, and works for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. He is a politician and an economist, well-versed on economic reform and tax system policies, as well as in regional transport and energy networks. He has an active role in the Recovery and Resilience Facility, as well as the extensive transport program TEN-T, including the Rail Baltica project. Roberts is a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as well as the Committee on Transport and Tourism. In 2022 he was elected to be a Vice President of the European Parliament, the first Latvian MEP to hold this position. 

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