Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis: we have to be more active in defending Lithuania's interests in the EU institutions

Date

2018 06 06

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Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has met with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and other European Commissioners in Brussels to present Lithuania’s line on the new EU multiannual financial framework.

The first Prime Minister’s meeting was with European Commissioner responsible for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete to discuss the financing of the decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, Lithuania’s priority to synchronise its power grid with the Continental European networks, and the problem of the Astravets Power Plant.

The European Commissioner has expressed full support for the immediate synchronisation of the Baltic electricity grid with the Continental European networks. The Commissioner confirmed the commitment of the European Commission to secure funding for the decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. The European Commission has put forward the financing proposal of EUR 552 million for 2021-2027, and the Lithuanian Government’s commitment to contribute from the national funds to the closure of the Power Plant is highly appreciated.

The Commissioner has asked about Lithuania’s plans to ensure the long-term supply of liquefied natural gas post 2024. The Prime Minister has said that efforts are taken to find the best solution to address this issue, including through the redemption of the terminal.

‘Synchronisation of the power grid with Continental Europe is the Commission’s priority, and the Commissioner has confirmed that the Commission’s goal is to move forward from the discussion to concrete works leading to the implementation of this project’, said the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister has discussed the EU support for agriculture with European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan. Although the European Commission proposes to raise the support by 1.4 per cent for the Lithuanian agriculture as of 2021, and Lithuania is one of the few countries whose financing is increasing, but taking into account the long-term prospect, the country will still be one fifth below the EU average. This is particularly worrying, since rural development has an important role to play in meeting the ambitious objectives of the new Common Agricultural Policy. Another point of concern is the convergence of direct payments. Mr Hogan promised EUR 17 million in support for farmers affected by natural disaster.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has thanked Gunther Oettinger, Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, for the separate budget line for the decommissioning of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, noting however that the proposal (EUR 552 million) covers only 70 per cent of the need. According to the Prime Minister, the project is of unprecedented size, and its full implementation (by 2038) requires continuous EU support, and failing to have sufficient funding, the second unit may not be dismantled. The Prime Minister has noted that the proposal to reduce the Cohesion Policy funds for Lithuania by almost a quarter is totally unacceptable, while this is the most important policy area ensuring economic and social development in Lithuania. Lithuania happens to have one of the longest external land borders, so the Head of Government has expressed the hope that adequate EU funding will be allocated to land border protection, particularly to external border surveillance measures. Mr Oettinger has said he knows Lithuania’s problems and assured of his efforts make our country heard.

In a very friendly meeting with EC President J.C. Juncker, the Prime Minister has emphasized that Lithuania is grateful to the European Commission for the proposal in the new financial perspective, but the project still had to be negotiated.

The EC leader has suggested setting up a working group to further negotiate on the new EU budget ahead of the final agreements, as the current figures are but the start of negotiations. Mr Juncker has agreed that the new EU financial perspective and budgetary adjustments will be affected by the withdrawal of Great Britain, insisting however that the interests of small EU Member States will nevertheless be taken into account. J.C. Juncker has also shown his understanding as regards the agricultural issues for Lithuania and therefore he has promised to aim for the best possible result in this area.

‘Our main concern is a significant reduction in the Cohesion and the Common Agricultural Policy funding. Other issues of no less importance are the funding of Ignalina NPP, infrastructure projects, border protection, and neighbourhood policy. I am pleased about the warm and constructive dialogue with the European Commissioners and Mr J.C. Junker, we have made ourselves heard and we are determined to make constructive progress in the negotiations on the new budget of the Union ‘, said Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

The EC approved a more detailed proposal for the multiannual draft budget for the period 2021-2002 last week. In 2014-2020, Lithuania will receive EUR 6.901 for regional development. It is 7.9 per cent down on the current seven-year budget.