In talks regarding the next multi-year budget of the European Union, the ability of Latvia’s current and future government to lobby its interests in Brussels and with governments of the largest donor member states, allows member of the European Parliament Artis Pabriks.
Commenting on European Commission’s proposals for the EU budget after 2020, the MEP underlines that the big fight has begun. At the same time, he is sceptical that the agreement on the budget could be made this year. According to him, the largest concerns are about the budget’s division among regions in the EU. «It seems the portion of the budget intended for new EU member states in Eastern Europe will be divided more in favour of Southern Europe, even though this is not directly reflected in EC’s proposal,» explains Pabriks.
According to him, EC and certain member states likely want budget assistance for one or the other European policy. «With Germany this is more or less associated with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s initial idea for migrant and refugee policy. As for specific countries, such as Germany and Netherlands, I allow there is a desire to use the budget to take away money from countries that have conflicts with EC regarding definitions of rule of law and democracy,» said the politician, adding that division of money is likely an attempt to secure political stability in Europe’s southern regions.
«If this happens in this way, it would not be beneficial for Latvia. It would not be beneficial to us if money left countries like Poland. Although there is a conflict between Poland and the European Commission, Poland, after receiving less money, will likely experience a new wave of anti-European protests,» says the MEP, adding that such a division of funds in unfair at least because eastern regions have used EU funds more successfully than Europe’s southern regions.
Pabriks also pointed out that EC offers transferring funds from one field to another without increasing the volume of available funds. Pabriks is generally cautious about EC’s proposals, pointing towards the fact that everything will depend on the current and future government in Latvia and its lobbying abilities in Brussels and with governments of the largest donor countries.
«If no EU money comes to Latvia, it will be much harder and the country’s economic policy will have to be directed towards ensuring maximum economic development. We cannot continue relying on money transfers from Europe. It is necessary to put a lot of effort into improving Latvia’s economy and investing European finances into pulling the economy together, not short-term projects,» says the politician.
As it is known, the European Commission proposed on Wednesday last week plans to reduce funding for the general agricultural policy by approximately 5%.
EC Information Office in Latvia reports that EC has considered options to save finances or ensure more efficient operations. This is why decision has made to reduce funding for the general agricultural policy and cohesion policy by approximately 5%. To ensure this yields results even with smaller funds and serve new priorities, the policy’s fields will be modernized. For example, structural reform and long-term integration of migrants should play a larger role for cohesion policy, EC explains. These changes would help the budget gain a new balance. More attention will be provided to fields in which EU is able to assist the most.