Last week, the European Commission released its proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU long term-budget for the 2021-2027 period.
Overall, the Commission proposed a long-term budget of €1.135 billion in commitments (€1.105 billion in payments), equivalent to 1.11% of the EU27’s gross national income.
The main feature of the Commission’s proposal is the increasing in the funding levels “by focusing on the areas where the Union is best placed to deliver”: border management, security and defence, research and innovation and young people – with a doubled budget for Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps. Moreover, the proposal includes a new mechanism to suspend, reduce or restrict access to EU funding in a manner proportionate to the nature, gravity and scope of the rule of law deficiencies in the Member States, as well as a new European Investment Stabilisation Function to maintain investment levels in the euro area.
On the other hand, in the new frame of an European Union at 27, the Commission proposed to make savings by reducing the Common Agricultural Policy and the Cohesion Policy by around 5%, and to increase efficiency by modernising these policies even to serve new priorities such as the long-term integration of migrants.
As far as the social sector is concerned, another new feature is the reduction of the number of programmes by more than a third (from 58 currently to 37 in the future), by bringing fragmented funding sources together into new integrated programmes. This simplification could also imply the merging of the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), as well as the inclusion of EaSI into a bigger programme.
More specific details will be released by the Commission in the weeks to come, with three legislative proposals for spending programmes to be presented from the 29th of May to 12th of June 2018. The decision on the future long-term EU budget will then fall to the European Council, acting by unanimity, with the consent of the European Parliament. The Commission’s goal is to allow for a swift agreement before the European Parliament elections and the summit in Sibiu on the 9th of May 2019.
“The new budget is an opportunity – said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker – to shape our future as a new, ambitious Union of 27 bound together by solidarity. We have put forward a pragmatic plan for how to do more with less. I strongly believe we should aim to have agreement before the European Parliament elections next year.”