MEP: gov­ern­ment's lob­by­ing abil­ity will play ma­jor role in talks about

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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.

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