AM: re­quire­ment for pur­chase of land in Latvia is not dis­crim­i­nat­ing to­wards EU cit­i­zens

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The law that pro­vides stricter lan­guage re­quire­ments for pro­cure­ment of agri­cul­ture land is not dis­crim­i­na­tory to­wards cit­i­zens of other Euro­pean Union mem­ber states, says Lat­vian Agri­cul­ture Min­istry, com­ment­ing on com­plaints sub­mit­ted to EC cen­tre for set­ting con­flicts Solvit by for­eign busi­ness­men in re­la­tion to the re­quire­ments im­posed by Latvia on pri­va­ti­za­tion of land.

«Ac­cord­ing to Agri­cul­ture Min­istry, amend­ments ap­proved by the Saeima to the Law on Land Pri­va­ti­za­tion in Ru­ral Ar­eas on 8 May 2017, which in­clude strict lan­guage re­quire­ments, are not dis­crim­i­na­tory to­wards cit­i­zens of other EU mem­bers,» notes the min­istry. The min­istry ex­plained that Saeima’s Na­tional Econ­omy Com­mit­tee re­ceived proposals from mul­ti­ple deputies, ask­ing to es­tab­lish spe­cific Lat­vian lan­guage re­quire­ments for pro­cure­ment of Latvia’s na­tional trea­sure – agri­cul­tural land. Sev­eral ar­gu­ments were voiced in favour of in­tro­duc­ing a lan­guage skill cri­te­rion, in­clud­ing oc­cu­pa­tional safety.

«Agri­cul­ture is a sec­tor char­ac­ter­ized by in­creased pro­duc­tion risks as­so­ci­ated with oc­cu­pa­tional safety and ac­ci­dents, use of ap­pro­pri­ate plant pro­tec­tion sub­stances, as well as en­sur­ing health­i­ness of prod­ucts,» the min­istry re­minds.

To re­duce risks, it has been de­cided to es­tab­lish lan­guage re­quire­ment to make sure the buyer can un­der­stand reg­u­la­tions and laws as­so­ci­ated with land own­er­ship in Latvia. On top of that, com­mu­ni­ca­tion with state and mu­nic­i­pal in­sti­tu­tions is per­formed in the state lan­guage in ac­cor­dance with the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic of Latvia and State Lan­guage Law.

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s Solvit cen­tre re­ceived mul­ti­ple com­plaints from for­eign in­vestors in re­la­tion to reg­u­la­tions in Latvia that re­quire stricter lan­guage re­quire­ments for pro­cure­ment of agri­cul­tural land. All com­plaints were re­ceived from for­eign busi­ness­men ac­tive in Latvia. Most com­plaints were about amend­ments to the Law on Land Pri­va­ti­za­tion in Ru­ral Ar­eas.

Many busi­ness­men said the re­quire­ment for Lat­vian lan­guage at least cat­e­gory B lim­its their free­dom to con­tinue busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties in Latvia. Reg­u­la­tions also make it harder to co­op­er­ate with lo­cal busi­nesses.

Ieva Lūka/LETA

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