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2020.07.17 11:30

Too much money from EU would be harmful to Lithuania, MEP says

Deividas Jursevičius, LRT RADIJAS, LRT.lt2020.07.17 11:30

The European Union's stimulus funding may do more harm than good to Lithuania, which has no plan how to effectively invest the money, and may lead to more inequality, according to Lithuanian MEP Aušra Maldeikienė.

Lithuania is looking to get 6.3 billion euros from the EU's post-coronavirus recovery fund, 3.9 billion in subsidies and 2.4 billion in loans.

Read more: EU's new budget proposal ‘a step forward’, but still unsatisfactory – Lithuanian president's aide

In all, the European Commission has proposed measures worth 1.85 trillion euros for the period 2021–2027. The plan has to be endorsed by the European Council and the European Parliament.

Maldeikienė, who sits with the European People's Party and is a member of the EP's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, told LRT RADIO she might vote against the package, unless crucial issues – like the sharing of debt repayment – were ironed out.

“At the moment, the budget committee is holding serious discussions and even the European People's Party's group [...] that [EC President] Ursula von der Leyen indirectly represents, insists that there are many problems [with the Recovery Fund] and unless they are solved – firstly, how to share the repayment of the debt – we will vote against it. I will definitely vote against it,” Maldeikienė told LRT RADIO.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, who is leaving for a European Council summit on Friday, has said he will fight for more cohesion funding – aimed at poorer EU member states – and higher agriculture subsidies for Lithuanian farmers.

Maldeikienė, however, criticised the approach, saying most of the subsidies end up with big farmers.

Read more: Lithuania could get €6.3bn from EC's coronavirus recovery fund – EU commissioner

“Lithuanian agriculture [...] is in fact among the least efficient,” she told LRT RADIO.

“It has no social standards and effectively pays no taxes, it enjoys 25 tax exemptions. [...] If our farmers paid the same taxes as Western European farmers, they would be getting bigger payouts. We are the only EU state that doesn't tax compensations and direct payments,” Maldeikienė said.

Moreover, Lithuania's big farms are not environmentally sustainable.

“When it comes to green Europe, Lithuania is over-fertilized and the soil is tragically deteriorating,” according Maldeikienė.

The 6.3-billion-euro support would be the biggest cash injection in Lithuania's history. However, it could do more harm than good if there is no plan how to invest the money.

“If we get those billions, I'll be frank, Lithuania will end up with more inequality than there is now. No person and no government takes out a loan unless they know who will pay it back, what to do with it and whether the investment will give returns,” Maldeikienė said.

The money should be invested on reducing inequality, but there is hardly any discussion about it in Lithuania, according to her.

“We are so ill-prepared that we don't even think about [what to do with the money],” she said. “We're a society of infantile adolescents who believe that if someone gives you money, you will find [how to spend it].”

Read more: EU pie is up for grabs. Don't punish Eastern Europe for handling corona crisis well – opinion

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