Fico expresses concern over EU summit outcome

Speaking to reporters on board a plane flying to Brussels on Thursday, February 7, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said he expected a meeting of leaders of European Union countries, to be held that same evening to discuss the EU budget for the years 2014 to 2020, to be a night of blackmailing.

Speaking to reporters on board a plane flying to Brussels on Thursday, February 7, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said he expected a meeting of leaders of European Union countries, to be held that same evening to discuss the EU budget for the years 2014 to 2020, to be a night of blackmailing.

"Dissatisfied member states will demand individual gifts to compensate for their position, which they consider insufficient. Therefore, we have to be careful so that something does not happen behind our backs, where we could lose some funds," he said on his way to the EU summit, as quoted by the SITA newswire. Slovakia's priorities in the negotiations remain unchanged. According to Fico, Slovakia wants to get more money for the 2014-2020 programming period than it received in the current period. His second priority was to maintain a higher volume of resources in the area of cohesion, i.e. funding to reduce regional disparities. "Then it's quicker approximation of direct payments [to farmers], where we have some specific proposals," Fico said. He said he would also like to suggest reallocation of funds from Rural Development to direct payments to farmers.

"Another priority is Bohunice [the decommissioning of the V1 nuclear power plant - SITA note]," said Fico ahead of the negotiations.

He said he expected some prime ministers to raise the issue of reducing administrative costs. "There we need to find some balance, because good people need to be paid well and the European Union needs good people. On the other hand, I am against the extremes; it is inconceivable that some officials had such large salaries as they say. I assume that countries wishing make large budget cuts will open this issue," Prime Minister Fico said.

Because of the differing views of member states, the outcome of the EU summit is still uncertain and negotiations could extend to Saturday. Net contributors, which include for example Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, are trying to push through further cuts of around €10-30 billion to the €972 billion, 7-year draft budget.

Source: SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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