Where should the money go? It’s one of the most important (and contentious) questions in any political system. However you approach it, it’s an absolutely fundamental issue.

In order to provide predictability and clarity for planning purposes (and also because it doesn’t want to see a massive bust-up over money every single year), the EU operates what is charmingly called a “Multiannual Financial Framework” (MFF).

The MFF is basically a seven-year framework that sets out a cap (or ‘ceiling’) on what the EU may spend on its various policy areas. The current MFF covers 2014 to 2020, and the next period will begin in 2021. The wrangling over money for the next MFF is already beginning.

The MFF is not a budget in itself, but it does regulate how the EU budget is actually spent. So, allocating a higher ceiling for one policy area over another means that certain programmes potentially receive a greater share of resources than others. In this way, the negotiations can help set what policy areas the EU will prioritise in future.

In the 2014-2020 MFF, the two largest items were EU cohesion funding (34%) and the Common Agricultural Policy (38%). Cohesion funding includes investment (particularly in projects encouraging cross-border trade and integration) in some of the least-developed EU countries, whereas the CAP is spent largely on direct subsidies to farmers (and you can see some of the arguments for and against the CAP here).

We’ve set out some of the possible budget priorities in the poll below. Take a look and vote for the area that you feel should receive the most attention in the upcoming MFF negotiations. If you have additional ideas, let us know in the comments below!


The outcome of this debate will be discussed by participants during State of Europe, a high-level roundtable event organised by our sister think tank, Friends of Europe, on 12 October 2017. You can see the programme for State of Europe online here.

What should the EU budget prioritise? Where should the money go? Which areas should European funding concentrate on? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / axelle b, CHART SOURCE: European Commission


54 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Enric Mestres Girbal

    The europeans welfare and prosperity, not to fill the capitalists and politician’s pockets or to subsidy migrants.

  2. Nijole Gulbinaite

    ….vaje,vaje,pagaliau prisiiriau iki
    EU Biudzeto….Tai kam skiriami prioritetai is EU Biudzeto? – Ar kitaip pasakyti: Kam pirmumo teise skiriami pinigai EURAI is EU Biudzeto ?
    Klausia EU piliete is Lietuvos.

  3. Paul X

    It’s not rocket science, 38% goes on CAP which protects the jobs of 3% of the population (farmers, mainly French) whilst 13% is supposed to help the other 97% of the population to keep or find jobs

    • Dee O'brien

      It doesn’t suit their agenda…hence the silence

    • Rémi Martin

      As French, I don’t care about that, I’ve got others problems; how can my land leave this dictatorship?

  4. Stefania Portici

    dovrebbe permettere ad ogni Stato di poter spendere per quello che gli serve come succedeva prima quando l’euro non ci stava e le cose funzionavano bene

    • Jovan Ivosevic

      You think Britain is the biggest contributor to the budget? Not even close. It had a rebate for decades. The Germans bear a much greater share of that burden. Maybe the Brits will put all that money back in the NHS. And if you believe that, I have a very lovely bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

    • Rémi Martin

      One thing is sure, your country Jovan isn’t contributing to EU, you’re just taking money from our taxes, but one day, you’ll to give it back, be sure!

    • Paul X

      WIth its rebate UK is still the 4th highest net contributor, without it it would be the highest.
      Anyway, if you want to whine about rebates I suggest you also include Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden’s

    • Carl Glover

      Jovan Ivosevic, no idea where you get your information from, probably EU(SSR) propoganda or what ever comic you read last. The UK IS and has been for some years the EU(SSR)s single biggest contributor to the tune of 180,000,000,000 pounds sterling, far more than any other member state, Germany is second, most member states contribute 0 yet receive vast amounts, I actually have the chart of who pays what and who receives what. The UK receives a negligible rebate, a very small amount, the UK receives, despite being the single biggest contributor, less than any other single member state. Go check your facts and don’t present us with communist propoganda. The gravy train will grind to a halt for all the non-contributing states after Brexit.

  5. frankie perussault

    Before going any further we’d better put the full throttle on to becoming a federal country with a federal army. at the moment it’s as if the house had no walls and no roof… we’re just sitting around talking!

    • Harry Bell

      What, you’d vote for the ‘federation’ and an armed force to be used against yourselves if you ever cared to protest the leadership, talk about Turkeys voting for Christmas, unbelievable. Oh, and if you think I’ve got this all wrong then tell us all Frankie why you need an EU army? who are you planning to invade?why would the EU wish to fund an army anyway when they won’t even honour their NATO contributions. How is it you clowns can fail to see whats coming?

  6. Emrah Can

    Tax avoidance ! 1000 billion € every yearin Europe. Much more than EU budget .

  7. Peter Thomas

    Spreading Europe’s inordinate wealth across all regions and all income quintiles. Standardising the basics – minimum/maximum wages, mortgage interest rates, VAT, R+D and education spending etc. – so there really is a level playing field.

  8. Hidalgo Yann

    Automated Teller Machine, abruttis & stop crimes & bring me bank cards all inclusive, the darks one without expiration, enfants de bordels

  9. Róbert Bogdán

    Startup companies, new, small entrepreneurial ventures. We need less welfare programs,less government programs in general, fewer regulations and more private businesses.

    • Elia Atanas

      Start ups have enough other capital venues and ventures, they can outsource jsut about anything, no need for babysitting, or worse, taking a 51% …

    • Róbert Bogdán

      Actually, public funding can be detrimental indeed. Maybe it’s best to keep government interference to a minimum.

  10. Elia Atanas

    If I ever become wealthy beyond my dreams, I m goona help make UBI a Reality asap, and you all can kiss my se*y ar** :) Cheers

  11. Mark Vought

    That’s it’s all a laughable, embarrassing and pathetic joke, played on the good people of Europe! A self-serving globalist experiment, a power grab gone spectacularly wrong! A simple lie from the start

    • Ana Coucello

      Muito bem. E como em matéria de relações externas a reciprocidade é a regra, espero que tenha soluções para o regresso em massa dos europeus que fazem a sua vida pela Ásia, África, Américas, e que esteja preparado para os “agradecimentos” que lhe irão dirigir! Para alguém que aparenta – pelo nome – ser cidadão de um país de emigrantes, a sua posição é no mínimo confrangedora.

  12. Yannick Cornet

    Environmental sustainability. The social will always be up for debate, and we have democracies for that (although the example of Spain is not too good, but thats beside topic). But without environment, without ecological integrity, there will be no social. And by that, science means both prioritising climate change mitigation and adaptation, but also biodiversity loss, which is left under the radar, quite dangerously so. Google Planetary Boundaries by Steffen et al. 2015 for details (Stockholm Resilience Centre).

  13. eusebio manuel vestias vestias

    Es hora de un repensar fundamental en Europa La UE tiene fallas Las lecciones han aprendido lo que há sido mal y porque hay que tomar decisiones dificiles en un nuevo camino más fácil para la paz prosperidad tiene que ser aberto

  14. Andrea

    Europe should concentrate on reducing long term and youth unemployment, research and development, joining up different regions and seriously increase frontier security at Europe’s borders.

  15. Ana Coucello

    So sad the lack of knowledge most of the comments show!
    And so easy nowadays to get the facts and data needed to have a well-informed opinion! Lazy citizens, dangerous citizens.

  16. Olga Kosmidou/Cosmidou

    Enhance language and culture education so that young generations better understand different views in member countries. Create a special branch of Erasmus for the best students on this matter. Invest now to defeat populism.

  17. Xoan

    Contabilizar el capital natural en el PIB de los estados y regiones.
    Que las ayudas de la PAC vayan en función de los servicios ecosistémicos, la seguridad alimentaria, el análisis del ciclo de la vida, y que se contabilizen las externalidades negativas ocultas, en terceros paises, como la aforestación de la Amazonia porl la ganadería intensiva.
    Que halla más transparencia y particiàción pública a la hora de legislar, y que se exiga, en todos los niveles administrativos y de gobierno. Un ejemplo claro de oscurantismo fue la elaboración del PDR 2014-2020, el de Galicia, y el del Estado español.
    Que los investigadores tengan oportunidad de trabajar en su región o pais, y no tengan que emigrar por falta de oportunidades.
    Más financiación para la investigación agraria en Organismos Públicos, orientada y aplicada para tranfereirlos conocimeintos, las mejores técnicas diponibles etc a las pequeñas granjas familiares.
    Un mayor seguimiento y control de la gestión del dinero público por parte de Europa, centrada en evaluación de resultados, para evitar el desvío de fondos europeos de innovación a gasto corriente de las empresas.

  18. Miguel Atanet

    The EU generates 40% of its economic output in just 14% of its territory – the geographical square formed by Hamburg, Munich, Milan and Paris – which is home to less than one third of its population.

    Given the wide disparities between the EU regions, promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among member states should be one of the EU major objectives.

    That disparity is the source of many challenges that the EU faces today.

  19. Mr. Lio Kaufman

    You want real trickle down economics… That is investment in innovation. New tech, working practices, education methods, entrepreneurial ventures… Those grow the economy and also tend to reduce unemployment and develop countries and attract investment… And if the inovassion is within the education sector then it also helps to prepare the workforce – including reskilling.

  20. Margit-Mariann Koppel

    Caretaking for your own kind should be regarded to a job and is to be paid by the state. Not as in Estonia, where people, who are the caretakers 24/ 7 and left without pension, are forced to work. Mr. Priit Adler can give you the adequate information on the situation. The Ministry of Social Affairs hasn´t been able to come forward with any solution for more than ten years.

  21. catherine benning

    What should the EU budget prioritise?

    Using citizens taxes to fund and protect European peoples from foreign invaders. The first duty of any government or ‘pseudo government,’ who claim to be democratic, is to listen to the people they lead and adopt the political policies those people were promised they were voting for.

    Across the European spectrum the people of each and every State are constantly having to plead with this lunatic group, who claim to be leaders, to first and foremost, put the people who are presently paying their fat salaries first. And all peoples from outside Europe are not a priority, on any level. Not for settlement within their states, nor for benefits, housing, health care, protection, employment or any other social expectation promised to the electorate within your sphere. If you want to be the leaders of those from outside Europes borders, then go to their country of origin and stand for elections there. And personally bill them for your costs of performance on their behalf.

    In other words, get the hell out of the business of claiming leadership for the European people as a whole, when it is not their interests that are your main focus. Stop pretending to them that they are your benefitees. They are not. Your loyalties lie elsewhere and not with the peoples of Europe.

    If the EU is not willing to follow the rule of duty toward its citizens first, then those citizens have every right to demand a no confidence vote in your policies and call for your immediate resignations. Right across the board. As, not prioritising their needs is a betrayal of all democracy stands for.

    Spend ‘their’ money on ridding them of the heavy burdens you have taken the decision to place on them without their consent, or in many cases, their knowledge of your intentions.

    Additionally, demand their foreign Aid money, sent to advance the living conditions of others abroad, is first detailed and put in place before any of your citizens hand over a penny of their largesse. This has to be done in order to end the practice of ‘no solutions’ to their overwhelming inadequacy in simple necessary tasks such as clean water, sewage disposal and all other health requirements of this human need. And all needs to enable foreign Aid receivers to get what we pay for them to benefit from. Countries that have not followed the road map of providing what we pay for, must no longer qualify for any aid whatsoever. Father Christmas we aint.

    So spend our money on prioritising Europeans in whatever is their first requirement. Return all those invading the European homelands back to their countries of origin and explain they must work for the same privileges in their home states, that all peoples of this continent have had to do historically. It is easy to follow as it is documented for them to follow. Demand this from their own leaders and not to expect or rely on others to do it for them. They are big boys and should get to it. Not sit with their hands relentlessly begging others under the auspices of being deserving. They are not more deserving than those who foot the bill for their inadequacies. Indeed, not as deserving.

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