Brexit chaos pushing EU budget talks further away, Lithuanian president says

  • 2018-12-15
  • LETA/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Uncertainty over the United Kingdom's exit form the European Union is undermining member states' negotiations on the 2021-2027 budget, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite says, adding that budget talks would take place only in the fall of 2019.

"Until British politicians reach a national, a partisan or an inter-group agreement, whatever you call it, until there's no common agreement on how they see Brexit and what they want, we are wasting time, and, most, importantly, Europe is being held hostage to his political chaos," Grybauskaite told the Lithuanian national broadcaster LRT in Brussels. Her comment was handed over to BNS Lithuania by the president office.

"Yesterday (Thursday – BNS Lithuania ) we had to agree that we will hold negotiations on the financial perspective not early next year to be able to agree in time, but we'll have to push talks to the fall, and this is the consequent of such a chaotic Brexit," the president said.

Attending the European Council summit, the Lithuanian leader also said the British prime comes to the summits "without a clear mandate", thus, these meetings lead to no result.

On Thursday, EU member states expressed their position on the European Commission's initial budget proposal.

"We, the Baltic states, spoke very clearly and in one voice on direct payments to farmers and funding for agriculture in general. So, the positions of many countries grouped up and were clearly expressed. So there are great guidelines for the European Commission to produce a second proposal, which is probably due in June. And, the negotiations are scheduled for even later, the fall of 2019," Grybauskaite said.

The presidential office said earlier Lithuania has three priority fields in the EU's next seven-year budget: cohesion support, agricultural payments and sufficient decommissioning funds for the Ignalina nuclear power plant, strategic energy and transportation projects.

With Lithuania's GDP now above the threshold of 75 percent of the EU average, the Commission has proposed to reduce support from cohesion funds to Lithuania by as much as 25 percent. According to the President, such drastic cuts are unacceptable. It is necessary to have a transitional period and reduce EU assistance gradually.

Lithuania together with Latvia and Estonia are working to make direct payments to Baltic farmers reach the EU average as soon as possible. The European Union is failing to meet its commitment made in 2013 that direct payments will amount to 196 euros per hectare by 2020. Under the Commission's initial proposal, Lithuanian farmers will receive only 174 euros per hectare in 2021, the first year of the new financial framework.