Tallinn, Stenbock House, 16 February 2018 – in yesterday’s joint address to their colleagues in the EU, Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė announced that the future multiannual financial framework of the European Union must ensure better connectivity, promote convergence and economic resilience, create equal competition conditions for farmers, and guarantee finances for dealing with the challenges of migration and security.
According to Ratas, Kučinskis, and Grybauskaitė, the development of the transport and energy networks as well as the digital infrastructure and services of the EU must continue and different parts of the EU need to be connected. The leaders highlighted connecting the Baltic electricity networks to the European energy market and Rail Baltic, which will connect Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with the rest of Europe, as strategically important projects for the EU.
The heads of state and government of the Baltic countries agree that catching-up in regions and Member States must continue to be supported from cohesion policy funds, while it should be ensured that structural support for regions is phased-out gradually as they converge. Ratas, Kučinskis, and Grybauskaitė write that farmers should have a level playing field and equal conditions for competition across the single market, i.e. balancing the direct payments of the Common Agricultural Policy should be finished.
The leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania highlight the new shared areas of cooperation of the EU that require funding from the next budget period: migration, internal and external security, protecting the external borders of the EU, the fight against terrorism and increasing (cyber)security, and defence cooperation. According to the heads of state and government, the EU neighbourhood should be targeted by a separate instrument.
“We believe in a strong and stable EU. Less Europe is not an option,” Ratas, Kučinskis, and Grybauskaitė wrote. “We agree that we must not do cuts at the expense of our common future. Therefore, we support the idea that funds directed towards research, innovation and youth should not be reduced and that cohesion and agriculture should be sufficiently funded in the future budget. In addition, our future will be digital and this dimension should be well-reflected in all policy areas of the budget,” said the heads of state and government.
According to the leaders, the Baltic countries are convinced that the resources of the union must exceed one per cent of the gross domestic product of the 27 Member States of the EU to reach new and shared goals. This means that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania wish to discuss with their colleagues in the EU how to maintain the size of the current long-term budget after Brexit; they are willing to increase their contribution to the budget of the European Union.
The leaders of the EU will begin the discussions regarding the next budget period on 23 February in Brussels. The goal of the meeting is to have an overview of the opinions of the 27 Member States of the EU regarding the size of the next long-term budget as well as the timeframe of the negotiations.