BRUSSELS – Commenting in Brussels on the failure of a two-day special European Council meeting to reach an agreement on the EU’s long-term budget for 2021-2027 on Friday night, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “expectations of reaching an agreement in the first attempt were extremely low.”
At the heart of the disagreement between the member states was how to fill the gap left in revenues by the UK’s exit from the bloc.
In a press conference shortly after the conclusion of the meeting, Mitsotakis called for “avoiding histrionics” about the failure and expressed his optimism that “time will allow us to be better prepared to reach an agreement” in a future effort. Calling the negotiations “a difficult crossword puzzle,” he nevertheless expressed optimism that a solution would be found “for a Europe we deserve.”
“History teaches us that such complex agreements are not, as a rule, achieved in the first attempt – such is Europe’s history,” he noted, adding that goals have been clearly set but circumstances were more difficult because of Brexit. National priorities, however, still stand, he asserted, explaining that “some (members) insisted we should do more with fewer resources, so no agreement was reached.”
He then underlined that Greece’s four main priorities in terms of European funding were: the need to protect farmers’ income; to transition into a new era of environmentally friendly methods; have a forward-looking National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF); and provide resources to enable a Fair Transition to a non-lignite dependent model of energy production. He also said policies related to migration, border control and the operation of Frontex should be supported.
Mitsotakis placed particular stress on “support of the two traditional EU pillars, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Cohesion Policy, which should be non-negotiable.” He further emphasized that these are policies which concern all EU citizens and should continue to be supported by a reinforced European budget.