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The Knowledge-Sharing Platform

29 Jun 2017

EC Reflection Paper opens debate on future EU budget

The European Commission (EC) published a "Reflection Paper" on the future of EU finances on 28 June 2017. The paper is the fifth and final paper in a series of papers that started with the publication of the EC's White Paper on the Future of Europe on 1 March 2017. The Reflection Paper outlines possible budgetary implications of different choices the EU can make.

According to the EC paper, the EU budget faces a tough challenge to fund more with less. The EU is expected to play a bigger role in new policy areas like migration, internal and external security or defence, while at the same time preserving its leading role on the global stage, as a major humanitarian and development aid donor and as a leader of the fight against climate change. In addition, there is the challenge of the EU budget getting smaller following the departure of the United Kingdom.

The reflection paper puts the key elements for discussion on the table, structured around the five scenarios of the White Paper: Will the EU simply carry on, do less together, move ahead at different levels of intensity, do less but more efficiently, or do much more together? Each of these illustrative scenarios would have different consequences - both in terms of how much to spend for what purpose, and on where the money could come from. Options range from reducing spending for existing policies to increasing revenues.

In addition, the reflection paper sets out the basic features of the EU budget and charts the principal trends and developments in key policy areas like cohesion or agriculture. It also addresses over-arching issues like the added value of EU funding or the articulation between EU funding and structural reforms in Member States. The paper will feed into the preparation of the proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework which the Commission intends to present in mid-2018.

For more information:

- EC press release

- White Paper on the Future of Europe

Reflection paper the future of EU finances (28 June 2017)

- Multiannual Financial Framework (2014-2020)


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