Lithuania best at absorbing EU funds

  • 2005-09-28
  • Staff and wire reports
VILNIUS - Dalia Grybauskaite, the European commissioner in charge of the EU's budget and financial policy, has praised her native Lithuania's administrative preparedness to apply for and absorb EU funds.
Grybauskaite, who presented a statement on the EU's 2004 budget last week in Brussels, said that Lithuania has received more financial support than planned.
"The European Commission has delivered all of its obligations, and Lithuania, due to its administrative capabilities, was allowed to receive more support than planned," she told the Baltic News Service.

EU budget spending accounted for nearly 2.8 percent of Lithuania's gross national income in 2004. That is the highest ratio among the 10 new member states and the fourth highest among the EU25. In 2004 Lithuania paid a total of 119 million euros into the EU budget but received 487 million, or 368 million euros on net.

Latvia received funds the equivalent of 1.82 percent of GDP, while Greece and Portugal led the union with absorption rates of 2.52 and 2.37 percent of GDP.

In total, the 10 new member states received 2.9 billion euros more than they had contributed to the EU budget, Grybauskaite reported.

In Lithuania, financial support was provided for facilitating the transit of Russian citizens to the Kaliningrad exclave and the decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (the latter receiving 47.5 million euros), as well as other projects.

Grybauskaite predicted that in 2006 spending on structural support and agriculture would continue to grow. However, she said she was worried about Europe's apparent inability to reach a consensus on the 2007-2013 EU budget parameters.

"They should have agreed on the financial prospects. Now every passing day brings additional risk that the EU's newcomers may not receive financial injections on time, which may result in grievous consequences for the economy of those states," Grybauskaite said.

The commissioner refused to make any comments on whether such an agreement may be reached by the end of this year. "The EC and many of the member states seek that the agreement on the financial prospects become a priority of Great Britain's presidency," the commissioner said. "So far, that is not a priority on the agenda of Great Britain's presidency."

Grybauskaite said that Britain should include the EU budget on the agenda of an informal summit to be held on Oct. 27, whereas London has been planning to debate the budget only in December.

Several countries, such as Germany, Sweden and Holland, have proposed freezing national contributions to the EU to 1 percent of GDP, while the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, is proposing to raise that to 1.14 percent.