About University of Latvia Think tank LV PEAK

The Productivity Research Institute "University of Latvia Think tank LV PEAK" (UL Think tank LV PEAK) was established on 25 November 2019. The basis of the UL Think tank LV PEAK is a recommendation issued by the Council of the European Union on 20 September 2016 and the 29 October 2019 decision of the Cabinet of the Ministers of the Republic of Latvia to nominate The University of Latvia think tank LV PEAK as a National Productivity Board of Latvia and thus to delegate it to represent Latvia in the Productivity Network of the EU Member States.

The strategic management of the work of the UL think tank LV PEAK is ensured by the Productivity Council, which consists of highly competent members, including academics and experts representing the Latvian Academy of Science, the University of Latvia and the private sector. LV PEAK has a co-operation agreement with the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Employers' Confederation of Latvia (LDDK) and other organizations.

The core mission of the UL think tank LV PEAK is to carry out an independent, objective and scientifically based analysis of competitiveness and productivity and to develop policy recommendations for the Latvian government. As a result of the UL think tank LV PEAK activities and research, in May 2019 a reviewed monograph entitled “Raising Productivity: Trends and Future Challenges” was published.

Currently, the researchers of the UL think tank LV PEAK within the National Sientific Research project "reCOVery-LV" are working on the first "Productivity Report" in accordance with the format of the European Commission. The report will be presented at the conference "Productivity Dialogue" on November 25, 2020.

 

 The spread of Covid-19 requires immediate policy response and future-oriented actions to reduce devastating socio-economic impact of crisis and preserve growth. The concept of the reCOVery-LV builds on a multidisciplinary assessment of the vulnerability and resilience of Latvian economy to the external shocks. 

In the global political landscape with protectionism elements and COVID-19 affected global supply chains, the space of manoeuvre for a small open economy like Latvia, is limited. Self-sufficiency is possible only in a few sectors. We analysed, for instance, how to improve the resilience of food producers and food supply chains during the crisis thus strengthening Latvia’s food self-sufficiency. However, sustainable solutions relate to international competitiveness and increased participation in the global and less risky regional supply chains. 

Over a longer term, the key factor of competitiveness is a productivity renaissance. The research findings and policy recommendations build a comprehensive “Latvian Productivity Report-2020” presented to and approved by the stakeholders, Ministry of Economics and the European Commission. 

As public resources within fiscal sustainability constraints should be invested effectively, the research team elaborated on the state aid criteria promoting productivity growth and efficiency of the infrastructure projects. 

The research team has worked out “trend” and “accelerated growth” scenarios. The underlying assumptions provide that it is crucial for Latvia to invest in economic stabilisation in the short term and in economic transformation in the medium and long term. Investment in new technologies, wider use of digital solutions, e-commerce, telework, new climate initiatives (including less paper use), and development of innovation ecosystem will have a significant impact on productivity, competitiveness and faster growth. 

Accelerated growth scenario require the institutional sustainability and effectiveness of the Government of Latvia. 

Therefore, the research team has elaborated on constitutional and administrative framework for effective management of external shocks. Intensive use of videoconferences and remote sittings of the Parliament during the pandemic provided a background for implementing a universal e-platform for the government communication in post-pandemic period, substituting in-person visits and elaborated a roadmap for implementing an e-platform. 

Final scientific review of the project PDF

 

The COVID-19 crisis has been a true black swan – an unexpected event that is having enormous consequences on virtually every aspect of our daily life. Next to the 1918 flu pandemic that occurred in a very differenc socio-economic context, there are no historical parallels close to the current crisis, which makes forecasting and future prediction a tough task. Due to the global scale of the crisis, the collaboration and joint efforts are at the heart of solutions to the COVID-19 situation. Close cooperation is especially important in the Baltic region with highly interconnected economies and societies.

This paper aims to provide a comparative picture of the effects of the crisis and describe the key factors and uncertainties affecting the recovery. Despite the sharp recession, there are also some opportunities arising from the situation, which are discussed in the third section of the paper. The concluding section presents possible coordinated policy actions that could support speedier recovery, long term technological progress and sustainable growth. 

This review is a joint work of Foresight Centre of Parliament of Estonian, LV PEAK of the University of Latvia and Government Strategic Analysis Center (STRATA) of Lithuania. The review was finalized in October 2020. 

A comparative review of socio-economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in the Baltic States PDF

Today, the Estonian Delegation to the Baltic Assembly (BA) participates in the digital 39th Session of the Baltic Assembly and the 26th Baltic Council, where an overview of the achievements of Estonia’s presidency is presented and the Resolution of the Session will be adopted. At the end of the session, Estonia will hand over the presidency to Lithuania, and new President of the BA will be elected.

Today, President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Henn Põlluaas will address the Session of the BA. In his opinion, the Baltic Sea region is one of the most successful and progressive regions in the world, but the fabric of today’s world is fragile. “The crisis will not resolve itself and we must stand firm and vigilant in the face of adversity. It is up to all of us to provide adequate joint response to tackle acute issues by building strong alliances, developing regional cooperation and nurturing trilateral and multilateral relations,” Põlluaas said.

The President of the Riigikogu pointed out that the three Baltic states shared a sense of unity, knowing that together we were stronger, more flexible and when needed, would give each other a supporting hand. “To ensure the security of the Baltic region, the Baltic defence cooperation needs to be enhanced and our NATO allies should be involved in it through a larger permanent presence. In addition to that, we must not forget that our contribution to the national, regional, and allied security starts with our individual awareness of the responsibility we have in developing and protecting democracy,” Põlluaas added.

Head of the Estonian Delegation to the BA Aadu Must noted that this year the Assembly had been considerably influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The unity and cooperation of the Baltic states are extremely important to us, and although meeting personally involves difficulties and restrictions, our organisations and our cooperation will persevere. We are grateful to all people who feel the same way and act in the name of bringing our countries closer to each other,” Must said.

Deputy Head of the Estonian Delegation to the BA Johannes Kert emphasised that the lessons learned from the crisis had to be remembered, because those lessons and the conclusions made could be used also in other crises the Baltic states may have to face. “For example, the security situation has not calmed down, but rather we can see alarming tendencies behind our borders. However, the Baltic Assembly also deals with defence cooperation. A good example of the cooperation of the three countries is the Baltic Assembly Medal awarded yesterday to Eveli Bauer for her untiring spirit of cooperation and contribution to making the joint procurements of medicines of the Baltic states a success story,” Kert said.

At the 39th Session of the BA and the sitting of the 26th Baltic Council, the report of Estonia’s presidency is presented, and the sociological and economic impact of COVID-19 on the Baltic states as well as exiting from the crisis are discussed. Also, the Joint Statement of the Baltic Council will be signed, and the BA Resolution and the Final Document of the 39th Session will be adopted. At the end of the Session, Estonia will hand over the presidency of the BA to Lithuania.

The Foresight Centre of the Riigikogu, LV PEAK of the University of Latvia and the Government Strategic Analysis Centre (STRATA) of Lithuania carried out a joint study “A comparative review of socio-economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in the Baltic States”. The report of the study will be presented at the BA Session.

The digital 39th Session of the Baltic Assembly, starting at 9.30 a.m., will be attended by Aadu Must and Johannes Kert, and members of the Estonian Delegation Helle-Moonika Helme, Signe Kivi, Helmen Kütt, Üllar Saaremäe, Erki Savisaar, Sven Sester and Urve Tiidus. Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik and Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps will participate in the discussion on COVID-19.

Estonia as the holder of the presidency of the Baltic Assembly organises the meetings of the Presidium, the Budget and Audit Committee and the Consultative Council of the Baltic Assembly as video conferences today. The impact of the coronavirus on the economies and cooperation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will be discussed. The decisions of the committee meetings held during Estonia’s presidency and the priorities of the Lithuanian presidency next year will also be in the focus.

President of the Baltic Assembly (BA) and Head of the Estonian Delegation Aadu Must said that the coronavirus had brought out the bottlenecks in the so far excellent cooperation of the three countries. “For example, at the onset of the crisis, we were not able to ensure timely exchange of information or jointly coordinate the emergency measures in our region. Fortunately, we have overcome these challenges by now, but after the low contagion rate in summer, the current situation is unclear and unpredictable. Therefore, we have to learn to live together with COVID-19 and find solutions to cope with the crises caused by it,” Must said.

Head of the Delegation added that Estonia had done a very good job in presiding the work of the BA under the coronavirus conditions. “We managed to make our work digital quickly and smoothly, nothing remained undone and with that, we even set an example to others,” Must said.

Deputy Head of the Estonian Delegation to the BA Johannes Kert noted that the Baltic States had managed to learn a lot from the current crisis. According to him, the he most valuable lesson learned is that when countries work together, they are able to effectively contain the virus and mitigate the crisis. “Therefore it is extremely important to continue on the same path. One of the coordination measures that could be implemented in the Baltic States is mutual assistance and coordination in the field of disaster prevention, preparedness and response,” Kert said.

At present, when the security situation is becoming more tense, coordinated activities of the Baltic States in the field of security are becoming increasingly important in Kert’s opinion. “Coordinated functioning of the defence procurements system would give more security for the resources contributed. We need to continue what we have started in this important sphere,” Kert added.

This spring, the Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) asked the Foresight Centre of the Riigikogu to analyse the economic and social implications of COVID-19. Within the framework of the research, the Foresight Centre in cooperation with the University of Latvia think tank LV PEAK and the Government Strategic Analysis Centre of Lithuania STRATA prepared an overview of the impact of COVID-19 on economy and social sphere in the Baltic States. This document will be presented today.

Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee and member of the Estonian delegation to the BA Sven Sester pointed out that COVID-19 had influenced not only health care systems and economies, but also the way the people live and work, their physical and mental welfare and domestic situation. In his opinion, continuation of the crisis will create an excellent opportunity for the increase of public sector investments due to direct necessity, and bring about wider cooperation with the private sector. “We have already seen how rapidly and flexibly the state and businesses responded to the crisis, and by learning from these, sometimes undoubtedly very painful experiences we will be able to take smarter steps in the future. Digitalisation and new business models are the keywords here,” Sester said.

On March 11, 2020, within the framework of the 78th International Scientific Conference of the University of Latvia (UL), the UL Faculty of Business, Management and Economics (FBME) Productivity Research Institute "University of Latvia Think tank LV PEAK" (UL Think tank LV PEAK) in cooperation with the European Commission (EC) Representation in Latvia  organised a section dedicated to the National Productivity Dialogue - "INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY IN THE RISK OF GROWTH".

The special section was opened by Andris Kužnieks, Acting Head of the EC Representation in Latvia, and Prof. Gundars Bērziņš, Chair of the Productivity Council LV PEAK, Dean of the UL FBME. The section was led by Acting Director of the UL Think tank LV PEAK Prof. Inna Šteinbuka. The presentations of the reports were followed by a discussion involving researchers, politicians, NGO representatives and entrepreneurs.

"At a time when due to the spread of COVID-19 and other risk factors the growth of the economy of Latvia is slowing down, the only thing that can take us out of the recession is a productivity increase," emphasized Prof. Inna Steinbuka.

Andris Kužnieks, Acting Head of the EC Representation in Latvia, said: “The European Commission has set an ambitious goal: to make Europe a climate neutral continent by 2050. It also has the support of the Member States, including Latvia. Europe strives to be digital, green and to close gaps and barriers to social and legal inequalities. Productivity is very important in achieving all these goals - there is a lot to be done and resources must be managed intelligently and with the greatest possible return. Then everyone will be the winner.

At the conference section reports were presented by Pēteris Vilks, Head of the Cross-sectoral Coordination Centre of Republic of Latvia; Mārtiņš Zemītis, European Semester Officer and economic analyst at the EC Representation in Latvia; Arnis Sauka, Professor and Director of the Sustainable Business Center; Juris Binde, President of SIA LMT, Member of the Productivity Council LV PEAK, Professor of the Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences; Prof. Gundars Bērziņš, Dean of the UL FBME, Chair of the Productivity Council LV PEAK; Līga Meņģelsone, Director General of the Employers' Confederation of Latvia; Jānis Endziņš, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Dainis Gašpuitis, Economist of the SEB bank and Oļegs Krasnopjorovs, Chief Economist of the Bank of Latvia.

The special section was organised with the aim to continue the Productivity Dialogue initiated by the Productivity Council LV PEAK, involving researchers and partners from the public administration of Latvia and NGOs. According to the 29 October 2019 decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia, the UL Think tank LV PEAK represents the Republic of Latvia in the network of National Productivity Boards of European Union Member States, which obliges the UL Think tank LV PEAK to promote the Productivity Dialogue in Latvian society to enable various stakeholders to discuss the country's productivity problems and identify critical elements for their solution.

Another task of the UL Think tank LV PEAK, as a member of the network of National Productivity Boards of the EU Member States, is to prepare the annual productivity report (Report), therefore the additional goal of the special section was to discuss the main directions of the Report, outlining the necessary research areas.

The presentations of the reports are available here: https://www.bvef.lu.lv/index.php?id=70088

 

On 14 January 2020, the European Policy Research Institute (EPRI) of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (LAS) and the Productivity Research Institute "University of Latvia Think tank LV PEAK" (UL Think tank LV PEAK) of the Faculty of Business, Management and Economics (FBME) of the University of Latvia (UL) signed a Declaration on co-operation in field of analysis of Latvia’s productivity and competitiveness.

The Declaration of collaboration was signed during the meeting of the Presidium of the LAS. On behalf of the LAS, the declaration was signed by LAS President, Ojārs Spārītis and Acting Director of EPRI, Zane Zeibote, but on behalf of the UL by Prof. Gundars Bērziņš, Dean of FBME, and Prof. Inn Šteinbuka, Acting Director of UL Think tank LV PEAK.

The signing of the declaration laid the foundations for further cooperation to promote productivity, competitiveness and analysis-based economic policy-making, as well as to link the academic and scientific environment in the field of productivity and competitiveness analysis. It is necessary that Latvia's planned measures and reforms promoting productivity and competitiveness be comprehensively discussed and based on a balanced independent analysis.

The Declaration of cooperation enters into force upon signing and includes a regular exchange of information on planned activities and current events on productivity and in the field of competitiveness analysis, joint organistion of an annual conference, as well as the participation of LAS EPRI in policy formulation and development of productivity reports and recommendations.

Dean of the University of Latvia (UL) Faculty of Business, Management and Economics (FBME) prof. Gundars Berziņš, on behalf of the newly established Productivity Research Institute "University of Latvia Think tank LV PEAK" (UL Think tank LV PEAK), has signed the Declarations of cooperation with the Employers' Confederation of Latvia (LDDK) and the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LTRK). The purpose of the declarations is to promote productivity, competitiveness and analysis-based economic policy-making.

The foundation of the Productivity Research Institute and the establishment of a cooperation mechanism with the social partners will enable Latvia to be part of the network of National Productivity Boards of the European Union member states. Participation in the network of National Productivity Boards will provide a framework for objective research and data-based economic policy-making,” said prof. Gundars Bērziņš.

Upon signing the Declaration, Līga Meņģelsone, Director General of LDDK, noted: “We believe that the creation of such a platform for business and science cooperation will motivate employers to participate even more actively in the development of economically important decisions. Science- and statistics-based data are crucial in stimulating new innovative solutions and proposals relevant to business development."

Congratulations to the "University of Latvia Think tank" on the establishment of the Productivity Council LV PEAK, thus fulfilling the recommendation of the European Union," said Chair of the Board of LTRK, Jānis Endziņš, and emphasized that “Productivity growth is the “golden key” to almost all of Latvia's main problems, including demography, poverty and others, so it is necessary to look for effective ways to increase it. For its part, the LTRK will do its utmost to ensure that the Council established by the “Think tank” develops and that the recommendations are capitalized in the decisions adopted by the government and the Saeima.”

At the proposal of the Ministry of Economics, the Cabinet of Ministers of Republic of Latvia decided to designate the UL Think tank LV PEAK as the Productivity Board of Latvia and, consequently, to delegate the representation of Latvia in the network of National Productivity Boards of the European Union. The decision was made taking into consideration that the UL Think tank LV PEAK has submitted the analytical report and recommendations to the Government, and the recent change of the status of the UL Think tank LV PEAK – the establishment of Productivity Research Institute and Productivity Board. The Productivity Board will have to work on matters of increasing the productivity of the European Union. The UL Think tank LV PEAK  has already actively stimulated public debate on productivity issues.

Through the Declarations of cooperation the UL Think tank LV PEAK, LDDK and LTRK will promote productivity, competitiveness and analytical economic policy-making. The declarations will improve the link between the academic and scientific environment and the business environment in Latvia, as well as contribute to a better implementation of the membership in the network of National Productivity Boards of the European Union Member States. The declarations stipulate that it will remain in force until 31 December 2022.