On December 12, the Executive Board of FICIL met with the President of Latvia Mr. Egils Levits in Riga Castle to discuss various concerns regarding the investment climate in Latvia, such as availability and quality of labour force, modernisation of the governance model of higher education institutions, court system efficiency and the necessity for a focused vision for Latvia.

Mr. Levits and FICIL agreed that judging by the lack of advancement in quality of higher education institutions (HEI) in Latvia, the governance model of HEI in Latvia has to be modernised. The new governance model has to include a clear separation of decision-making and executive roles. FICIL Board emphasised the importance of creating an environment where higher education institutions strive towards excellence and competitiveness.

“Results of this reform will come after 5-10 years, but we should act now,” said Mr. Levits.

The situation in the labour market remains very strained due to acute labour force shortage. FICIL Board pointed out the shortcomings in the regulatory framework as well as its enforcement procedures. Mr. Levits agreed with investors’ evaluation of the labour market situation, and pointed out that there are still unused opportunities to attract workforce from other EU countries, but attraction of workers from third countries is a complex issue, requiring a political solution.

The President of Latvia and FICIL Board also discussed the development of Latvia’s court system. Both sides were pleased with the progress towards establishing a specialised court for economic affairs with the aim to improve the quality of court rulings in this area and speed of court proceedings. Mr. Levits and investors commended digitalisation initiatives in the court system and agreed these have potential to improve the overall speed and efficiency of courts. Mr. Levits also informed investors about the ongoing work by the Ministry of Justice on improving the legislative process with the view to reduce the possibility to prolong court proceedings without sufficient grounds.

FICIL Board also emphasised that another factor hindering Latvia’s competitiveness for attracting foreign investment is the lack of a coherent and focused vision, defining Latvia’s strengths and ambitions. The State President agreed that the vision for Latvia should be formulated, however, given the large number of different stakeholders, it would be a complex process. FICIL envision Latvia as the most attractive country in the Baltic Sea region for investment.