The 15th Baltic Development Forum entitled “New Realities – New Opportunities” took place in Riga (Latvia) on 29 and 30 May. It focused on competitiveness, investment and business development in the region.
The Prime Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the President of Latvia for a high level session, underlining the strategic importance of the region. This annual event brought together more than 500 leaders from government, political parties, business, academia and civil society.
EIB Vice President Pim van Ballekom was invited to the opening plenary session to give the Bank’s comments on the State of the Region Report, and hailed the report’s focus on SMEs and job creation, which are key priorities for the EIB.
He reiterated the EIB’s support for the region and confirmed that, thanks to the Bank’s recent capital increase, it will be able to provide up to an additional EUR 15 billion to mobilise some EUR 40 billion worth of investments for small and medium-sized businesses in Europe.
The Bank was also represented by Graham Cope, Head of Region for Northern Europe at the European Investment Fund(EIF), who discussed innovative ways to finance business development, and Roland Randefelt (Senior Engineer, Regional and Urban Development), who opened the Baltic Business Arena with “do’s and don’ts” for doing business in the Baltic Sea region and presented the Lithuanian success story of how to combine structural funds with EIB loans.
The forum also gave Vice President van Ballekom, Anita Furstenburg (Head of the Baltic Sea Department at the EIB) and Thomas Schmidt(Head of the EIB’s Helsinki Office ) the opportunity to meet with Andris Vilks, Lithuanian Minister for Finance and thus one of the EIB’s governors.
In the networking village, participants were able to meet the full EIB delegation at its stand and get further information on EIB’s activities.