At the meeting of the European Union ministers for foreign affairs or European Union affairs in Horsens, Denmark today, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia supports the European Commission’s proposal regarding the general size of the budget and feels it is essential that the new financial framework (2014-2020) focuses on ensuring economic growth, increasing competitiveness, and creating jobs. “If reducing the overall financial framework cannot be avoided, Estonia feels it is essential that cuts in all areas of the budget be taken into consideration,” he noted.
“Cuts should not be made primarily at the expense of the cohesion policy, which is of key importance for achieving the goals of Europe 2020.”
Paet said that the most important topics for Estonia in the budget negotiations are exceptions in the use of cohesion policy funds, continuing the eligibility of VAT in cohesion policy, and the more rapid equalisation of agricultural support.
“For Estonia it is essential that it is possible within cohesion policy for the cap on the percentage of GDP that can be received in cohesion policy funds can be higher for those countries whose GDP growth from 2008-2010 was below the EU average,” said the foreign minister. “It is also important that the topic of the eligibility of non-refunded VAT be reflected in the negotiations packet, as this is a major change from the 2007-2013 period and is directly tied to the volume of co-financing already contained in the packet,” he added.
The foreign minister emphasised that within the common agricultural policy Estonia would like for the joint proposal of the Baltic states to be taken into consideration, by which they ask that direct supports be equalised more quickly. “This is important first and foremost to those whose direct supports are far below the European Union average,” Paet said.
In talking about economic growth in the context of European Union policies in general, Foreign Minister Paet said that getting budgets in order and economic growth go hand in hand, and these topics are not in conflict with one another. “Growth is the result of policies, not a policy in and of itself,” he asserted. He added that neglected reforms are the reason behind the poor competitiveness of many member states and therefore many of the problems faced today. “Macroeconomic imbalances require rapid and effective intervention,” said Paet.
Paet said that an effectively functioning internal market is one of the main guarantors of a strong and trustworthy euro and the joint financial services market, which is greatly reliant on the common currency. “Sustainable growth is backed by structural reforms in the member states, the creation of a functioning internal market, and observing financial discipline, including adhering to the established rules – not changing them,” he added.
Paet: Estonia Wants More Rapid Equalisation of EU Agricultural Support