Saturday

22nd Sep 2018

Baltic states demand bigger EU budget

  • Baltic states are seeking bigger EU payouts to their farmers (Photo: Visit Estonia)

Baltic state leaders want to expand the EU budget after Britain leaves the European Union – and possibly create "new own resources".

The prime ministers of Estonia and Latvia, and the president of Lithuania, say the EU budget, also known as the multi-annual financial framework, should be above 1 percent of the EU-27's (without the UK) gross national income (GNI).

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  • Lithuania's president Grybauskaite (c) handed the joint letter over to EU council chief Donald Tusk (Photo: nato.int)

"We are prepared to discuss ways to maintain the level of the current multi-annual financial framework, even after Brexit, by increased contributions and possibly new own resources to the EU budget," they said in a signed joint letter on Thursday (15 February).

Estonia's prime minister, Juri Ratas, Latvia's prime minister, Maris Kucinskis, and Lithuania's president, Dalia Grybauskaite, also say no cuts should be made to research, innovation and youth policy.

They also want higher direct payments from the EU budget to their farmers, noting that "they remain considerably below the EU average".

The letter comes ahead of broader discussions among EU leaders and heads of state at a summit set for 23 February.

It also follows announcements made earlier this week by the EU budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger to increase the seven-year budget above 1 percent of GNI.

"With Brexit and other changes upcoming, 1.0 will not be enough," Oettinger said.

The European Commission's final proposal will not be out until the start of May.

Response to Brexit

The budget debates are set to dovetail into ideas about Europe's future direction, as first outlined in Bratislava in 2016 and then again in Rome last March.

The Bratislava talks kicked off when the UK decided to leave the EU and amid a rise of nationalist populism, posing existential questions for the remaining 27 EU states.

At the time, the 27 EU states pledged to "find common solutions" on divisive issues such as migration and security.

Almost two years later, outstanding and divisive issues like migration remain, since the EU states are yet to find any common solution to the broader asylum and refugee debate.

The current budget discussions are instead seeking to shore up border security, with proposals that could see up to €150 billion set out for a full EU border management system.

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