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Austerity starts at home, cut political salaries first: Lithuanian president


Austerity starts at home, cut political salaries first: Lithuanian president


After a successful Irish EU presidency, which saw real steps taken on banking union and the bloc’s budget, euronews met with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaité to discuss which course she plans to chart for the European Union over the next six months.

euronews: The main result of this summit is 8 billion euros for fighting youth unemployment. It is more than was foreseen but its’ still a drop in the ocean for almost six milions young unemployed…

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė: “Yes you are right partly, the unemployment question is mainly the responsibility of national governments. The European budget usually can only push, can make an impetus, can make an incentive to tackle these questions, but it cannot solve everything and this will be bad perception if we only think that everything can be done from Brussels with one percent of European GDP in European coffers.”

euronews: It will be available in 2014 but what happens after that? What is the solution in the long term?

Grybauskaité: Of course it is some kind of kick-off for the projects of two years but of course we will see how it’ll go, and some programmes or best practices that we see in Germany or in Austria take minimum of 3 years. that ‘s cleat that we will need to extend this approach, that we will learn from our mistakes, and positive experiences, and this will be extended.

euronews: A year ago European leaders agreed a pact for growth, one year later eurozone has sunk into the longest recession. What went wrong?

Grybauskaité: It is not only budgetary, not only debt, not only financial, but very much also a real economic crisis.

euronews: It’s not because we pushed austerity too far?

Grybauskaité: No, it is the opposite. Because of austerity we were able to manage to start to grow after the drop of 15% of GDP, even in one year and half and now we are the fastest growing real economy in the European Union at least for this year. Of course the combination of how to tackle crisis is very complex, it is not only austerity it is also stimulus, it is also consensus with social partners.

euronews: In the US and in Japan, the growth is picking up much more quickly. Why should European citizens believe these promises now?

Grybauskaité: I think that we should not believe the promises. All of us, me also as I am a European citizens. We should believe in the results. The main problems that we see now in some countries started on a national level because of irresponsible fiscal and economic policies of national governments.

euronews: Lithuania seems to have done its homework. It’s done some severe reforms to get out of the crisis. Other countries haven’t done their homework, it seems to me. Can other countries learn from you?

Grybauskaité: You cannot rely on anybody else. Why we didn’t apply for a bailout? Why we didn’t apply to the IMF? We knew it was our responsibility and it’s only up to our political behaviour at home on which our future depends.

euronews: What is your message to other countries, such as France?

Grybauskaité: You need to be very clear with your people what is necessary to do. If it is austerity measures you need to say it is temporary, that you will recover everything after the crisis will be gone and that you start with yourself. If you cut salaries or pensions, you start cutting political leadership salaries.

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