Latvia’s prime minister on Friday “categorically” rejected the European Commission’s proposal to slash cohesion funds and spending priorities for the Baltic eurozone state in its next multi-year budget.
The EU on Tuesday proposed spending more on Italy and other member countries hit by the economic and migrant crises and less on increasingly wealthy eastern states.
Latvia stands to get 13 percent less in cohesion funds in the post-2020 spending plan, while Poland and Hungary stand to lose more.
“This is unacceptable to Latvia,” Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis said, quoted by the BNS Baltic News Service, adding that Latvia “categorically rejects the existing proposal”.
Cohesion or development policy aims to bring economic conditions in the 28-nation bloc’s traditionally poorer eastern countries up to the higher western levels.
Kucinskis also objected to the European Commission’s proposal to identify spending priorities that member states would be expected to follow during the next budget period.
“Since we know that a reduction can be expected… we want some flexibility regarding the programmes,” Kucinskis said according to the BNS, adding that “Latvia should be allowed to choose where to invest and not be ordered to follow the programmes forced on us by the European Commission.” It proposed May 2 a seven-percent cut to cohesion funds in a 1.279 trillion euro budget to help make up for the loss of Britain’s contribution after Brexit in 2019.
Funds for agriculture, which with development funds account for the biggest share of the budget, are slated for a five-percent cut.
European sources said Poland and Hungary would receive more than 20 percent less in cohesion funds in the next budget, compared to the current 2014-2020 budget.
The Polish government denounced as “unacceptable” the proposed reduction in funds.
EU officials deny the cuts are aimed at punishing eastern EU countries like Slovakia, Poland and Hungary for refusing to admit migrants.—AFP