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If the 1% is adopted, budgets will have to be cut. Interview with Dalia Grybauskaite

(B2 archives) Determined, hard-working, the Lithuanian Dalia Grybauskaité is today considered one of the references of the Barroso Commission. Less media than some of its counterparts, it is no less experienced. As Minister of Finance, in particular, she took charge of fiscal and budgetary reform in her country from 2001. She is currently in charge of the thorny issue of the “financial perspectives”.

Some countries, such as France, consider the European Commission's proposal too generous. Is this a justified criticism?

— We did not define this budget by chance but according to the political priorities decided by the Member States themselves, during the European Councils. Our duty, as a Commission, is to release the financial means to carry out its missions. We therefore have no reason to change our proposal.

Do you think an agreement is possible?

— The positions seem more flexible than they look. Each country does indeed have its own interests. France wants to protect its agricultural expenditure, Germany hopes to see its contribution reduced, Spain loses a lot of funding following enlargement and wants compensation, the United Kingdom defends its rebate... Finding a solution will undoubtedly require a compromise . However, this compromise will be made with 25 Member States, not with three or four. It is therefore up to the Member States, together, to decide what they want to do. The solution will then lie between the 1% requested by certain Member States and the 1,14% proposed by the Commission (in payment expenditure).

If the European budget were limited to 1%, what could be the consequences?

“You have to be really clear. If this option is adopted, cuts will have to be made in sectors that directly concern citizens, particularly in France. Only direct agricultural payments are, in fact, fixed after the 2002 agreement. The budgets allocated to rural development, regional policy, social policy, research and development and transport will have to be reduced. It will be up to the Member States to assume! In any case, they will have to dip into resources to finance what Europe no longer finances.

(Comments collected by Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Face-to-face interview – April 15, 2005 – first published in Maires de France

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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