Estonia Can't Bemoan New EU Budget, Says EU Affairs Director
Rahvusvahelised uudised 03 Feb 2013  EWR
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ERR News
The Government Office's director for EU Affairs, Juhan Lepassaar, said Estonia has little reason to complain over the new EU budget for the 2014 to 2020 period, as funding will generally increase.

Speaking on ERR radio, Lepassaar said proposed budget cuts will affect EU's infrastructure and integration most. “It is unavoidable that in a situation where countries curtail their spending, the EU's budget will not be able to grow by much. Net contributor states face a reality where they have to increase payments to the EU budget while cutting their own budgets to meet these payments,” added Lepassaar.

A budget proposal, drafted by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, seeks to cut the last budget draft by 7 percent or over 10 billion euros per year. The last draft was created in 2011, but due to protests from a number of member states, the union has been forced to draw up a slimmer version.

Van Rompuy's plan will see an increase to the current budget, but in real terms, less money will be available.

“If we look at where the cuts will take place, we will find the usual target of agricultural policy, foremost the rural development policy,” said Paavo Palk from the European Commission's representation in Estonia.

Palk added that the European Commission fought for an extensive increase in research and development funding, but will have to do with only a minor rise in R&D spending.

Lepassaar added that R&D funding will not increase by four-fold as first planned, but by two to three-fold.

“Should we be worried that the budget is decreasing? The situation is paradoxical, because funding will increase for only four states - the countries are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary. We received 3.8 billion euros between 2007 and 2013 [during the last budget period] and now we will get 4.5 billion euros - that is a considerable increase,” added Lepassaar.

He added that most of the increase, of the latest proposed budget, will be in agricultural subsidies, which will rise to 75 percent of the EU average by 2020, and the Cohesion Fund.

The seven-year budget, also known as the financial perspective, is likely to be approved next week.
 
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