Poland wants generous EU budget for Central Europe

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish President Andrzej Duda said Friday that the European Union’s budget for the next seven years should be generous for Central European nations, which aim to help drive the economic recovery from the coronavirus recession.

Duda spoke to open a summit of prime ministers of the Visegrad Group, a regional cooperation group that also includes the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, of which Poland is taking the 12-month rotational presidency.

“We want our region to be one of the poles of development in Europe after the pandemic. We have great ambitions but also great development needs,” Duda said.

“For that reason we want an ambitious European budget that will be focused on development, on European cohesion and on big structural investments that will fuel European economy in our region.”

Duda urged the government leaders to agree on a joint strategy for the ongoing 2021-2027 budget negotiations among the 27 EU members. Some members want the budget reduced for Poland and Hungary saying their government policies violate EU principles of the rule of law and democracy.

“I want the budget negotiations to be closed as soon as possible, with the desirable results,” Duda said.

He was addressing prime ministers of Slovakia, Igor Matovic, The Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, of Hungary, Viktor Orban and Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed for a quick agreement on a recovery fund aimed at pulling the EU out of the coronavirus recession. Speaking to the upper house of parliament she said that “every day counts.”

Germany this week took over the rotating EU presidency for six months, giving it a key role in trying to reach a deal on the recovery fund.

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