In an interview with EurActiv, Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite has criticised the UK Presidency's "aggressive rhetoric" on the financial perspective and the "poisonous" thinking behind member states' demands for "juste retour".
The budget commissioner is not very hopeful that a compromise will be attainable under the UK Presidency. "The risk of no agreement in this Presidency is a lot larger than it was for the previous one," Grybauskaite told EurActiv. She expressed her disappointment over the delay of the long-term budget deal: "We are already risking leaving 40 per cent of the European budget in January 2007 very difficult to execute".
The commissioner also urged governments to be more pragmatic in their approach to the financial perspective. She said: "So what does this aggressive rhetoric from the British Presidency side mean? Do they want consensus and a deal on finances or not? It's one thing to talk about the necessity of reforms and another thing to talk about the political responsibility and capability needed to implement these reforms."
She agreed however with the UK Presidency that "today's European budget is not a budget for the 21st century". She announced that the Commission will, by 2008, propose further ideas on how to modernise and reform the current budget.
Commissioner Grybauskaite also had few good words for the attitude of member states to get as much money back from the EU as they paid into the European coffers. This logic of "juste retour" [fair return] was historically introduced by Britain. It brought a "poisonous element into financial discussions", according to Grybauskaite. "No one imagines that, for example, they [governments] will ask why membership fees for the United Nations are not being returned to Britain or Germany or Lithuania."
Click here to read the full transcript of this interview