VILNIUS – Lithuania's regions outside the capital can expect to receive the highest possible financial assistance from the European Union in 2021 through 2027 after the European Commission updated statistical data for cohesion allocations last week, splitting the country into two separate regions with different development levels.
One region consists of the capital of Vilnius and the other covers the rest of the country.
If the revised territorial classification is finally approved, the less economically developed region of Central and Western Lithuania will receive higher EU support, while European funding for the region of Vilnius will decrease.
In addition to Lithuania, the Commission also updated the so-called NUTS (Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics) classification for Hungary, Poland and Ireland.
Trilateral negotiations between the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council on the issue are currently underway, with plans to complete the talks and finalize the division in the fall. The European Parliament already approved the proposal in April.
"Updated statistical data provide a more accurate picture of the real underlying socio-economic situation of different regions," the Commission says in a working document seen by BNS.
MEP Bronis Rope says the division would serve as a tool to reduce the gap between Lithuania's regions with different levels of development.
"The data, in their current form, indicate that Lithuania will have an obligation to plan as two regions and reduce the gap in the country. Thus, we will win a lower reduction in funding (compared with the 2014-2020 financial framework), because the larger region is home to a much larger population than the rich region," he told BNS.
According to the MEP, if Lithuania continued to be treated as one region, Cohesion Fund allocations to the country would decline by around 24 percent in 2021-2027 compared with 2014-2020 to about 5.5 billion euros. The amount would reach some 6.5 billion euros if it were treated as two regions.
Lithuania was allocated 6.885 billion euros from the Cohesion Fund in 2007-2013 and another 6.901 billion euros in 2014-2020.