Lithuania urges quick EU budget deal to fight crisis

Lithuania, which takes up the rotating EU presidency next month, warned Thursday that any delay in approving the bloc's trillion-euro budget would hamper efforts to fight the eurozone debt crisis and joblessness across the continent.

President Dalia Grybauskaite, a former EU budget chief, said the European Parliament should vote "as soon as possible" on the bloc's 2014-2020 spending plans.

"Everything (...) we will be trying to do to react to the crisis, including unemployment, will be hampered" if there is delay, she told AFP.

Grybauskaite warned that without formal approval of the budget it will not be "possible to transfer any resources for new programmes".

Approval is needed to step up EU social spending in 2014 to 2015 and implement a six-billion-euro ($7.9-billion) initiative to combat youth unemployment.

"Frontloading is possible, that's why it is so important to negotiate and vote in parliament as soon as possible."

After months of tough negotiations, the Commission, the member states and the Parliament thrashed out a possible compromise on the budget Wednesday, but it remained unclear if all involved would approve the deal.

Lithuania takes over the EU's rotating six-month presidency on July 1 from Ireland, which had been pressing for a budget deal before then.

At a summit in February, a hardline Britain shot down a Commission request to increase 2014-20 spending by 5.0 percent.

Backed by Germany, Britain said the request was unacceptable when EU states were implementing austerity measures designed to overcome the economic fallout of the eurozone debt crisis.

Instead, EU leaders agreed to a 3.0 percent spending cut, sparking uproar in the Parliament where members said the funds were desperately needed to stimulate growth and create new jobs.