The British government is discussing a possibility to divert part of its aid to Asian and African countries to Central and Eastern Europe instead, including the Baltic states. The policy would be an attempt to get a better Brexit deal, British daily The Times reported on Monday.
According to the plan, part of the government’s £12 billion aid budget should be used to support countries like Poland, Hungary, and Baltic states to win their support for a favorable deal once the United Kingdom exits the European Union.
As The Times wrote, the maneuver is reportedly designed to persuade eastern European countries to back the demands of the UK negotiating its exit from the EU.
The controversial proposal has already started a fight between ministers and officials at the Department for International Development, some of which insist the plan is illegal under international rules since the only countries that qualify for overseas development help in Eastern Europe are Ukraine and Albania, neither of which are members of the EU. The rules which countries are eligible for development spending are set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced he would set aside up to £700 million from the aid budget to boost “soft” power for Ukraine and the Baltic states, which were facing the threat of increasing Russian aggression, The Times wrote.
Other senior sources also said Johnson along with Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and other ministers wanted to see the aid budget go towards efforts to improve the Brexit deal. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond was also reported to be interested in the idea.
This information was made public just ahead of the upcoming visit of British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, to the Baltic states. As reported, Davis will visit Estonia on Monday and Latvia and Lithuania on Tuesday.
Editor: Dario Cavegn