An emergency summit of European Union leaders has failed to come up with an agreement on the bloc's seven-year budget, worth about one trillion euros.
The 27 EU leaders spent Thursday and Friday trying to agree on the 2021-2027 shared budget after Britain’s exit from the bloc on 31 January.
The so-called “Frugal Four” of Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands and some other richer EU states, which are net contributors to the EU budget. These states believe that the next EU budget should amount to 1 percent of the bloc's gross national income, while the poorer EU members insist on a bigger budget of 1.3 percent.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged that “the differences were simply too big” to arrive at a consensus, and that “there is still a lot of work ahead of us”.
French President Emmanuel Macron pledged that the work on the deal “will continue in coming weeks and months”, referring to ‘some improvements” which he admitted were “not good enough”.
“As my grandmother said, to succeed you have to try”, EU Council President Charles Michel, in turn, said adding there was no possibility to decide on the timing of the next budget summit.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stroke a harsher tone, making it clear that the "Frugal Four" will unlikely yield to demands on easing the 1.3 percent threshold.
“I can understand that when you're a prime minister in a country that has poor regions, infrastructures, I can understand that […] but when it comes to the percentage, I stand firm”, he said.
Dutch Premier Minister Mark Rutte was more upbeat saying that “there is a way to get out of this, but not tonight. He was echoed by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz who expressed hope that “a new breakthrough” will be in place “next time”, adding that the EU needs “two or three summits” to clinch a budget agreement.
Lithuania Wants Compensation for Adding to Germany’s Economic Growth
In this context, Sputnik contributor Irina Alksnis pointed to an emotional address by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda who touted his country as a net contributor to the EU in terms of labour resources.
“In recent years, Lithuania has lost ten percent of its workforce, people who moved to the UK and Germany, contributing to the economic growth of these countries”, Nauseda said, adding that Lithuania should be compensated for it.
Similar frustration in other EU states in central and eastern Europe can hardly come as a surprise to those who know about the historical realities of the region, Alksnis noted, referring to Russia’s role in forming these EU states national self-esteem.
“It was Russia which for many decades rendered huge free-of-charge financial support to these countries, helping them develop ideas about their own uniqueness, value and irreplaceability, something which now deserves funding from the EU”, Alksnis argued.
It seems, he concluded, that the EU has now begun to realise the fact that “multibillion-dollar subsidies, which were earlier pumped into the bloc’s new members of the union, had been perceived by these nations as a matter-of-fact continuation of the bloc’s policy rather than amazing beneficence”.