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!