RIGA - In the early hours of February 8, when EU leaders will convene for a meeting, an agreement could be reached on even bigger cuts in the European Union's multi-annual budget for 2014-2020, according to behind-the-scenes talks in Riga and Brussels.
According to the most likely scenario, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy will give in to Great Britain's demands and propose bigger cuts in the European Commission's proposed 1 trillioneuro budget tomorrow, point out experts.
Nevertheless, there are different versions regarding these cuts. It is possible that the budget will be reduced by 20 billioneuros at the expense of science and research, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the common foreign policy and development cooperation. Former Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis points out that, according to unofficial information, Great Britain demands could be taken into account and the budget could be reduced by 25 billioneuros. In addition, a 5 billion euroscut could be achieved at the expense of rural development.
Godmanis predicts that Rompuy will propose to cut the budget in order to pass it unanimously, including with the support of Great Britain.
MEP Roberts Zile (VL-TB/LNNK) believes that EU leaders will agree on the budget this week, since failing to do so for the second time, would not be within the domestic interests of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Zile predicts that Latvia will not be able to achieve support for the official stance of its farmers and government. Thus Latvian farmers will continue to receive the smallest direct payments in the EU. The politician also believes that the current situation with cohesion funds is much more important. According to the latest proposal, Latvia will receive 4.2 billioneuros worth of cohesion funds in 2014-2020. In the current period, Latvia receives 4.7 billioneuros.
MEP Karlis Sadurskis explains that the latest promises indicate that the budget will not be cut at the expense of cohesion and agricultural policies. The CEF faces the biggest cut, however, it will most likely not affect the high-speed railroad project Rail Baltica, which is highly important for Latvia.
MEP Krisjanis Karins (Unity) also predicts budget cuts in science, research and infrastructure.