Pushed to its limits, the EU’s long-term budget urgently needs to be revised

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


  • The world has changed beyond recognition since the EU’s 7-year-budget was adopted in 2020 
  • Current long-term budget not equipped to respond efficiently to multitude of crises 
  • MEPs call on Commission to propose an urgent revision of the “multiannual financial framework” (MFF) 

MEPs push for a reform of the EU budget to respond more effectively to evolving needs, address funding gaps, increase flexibility and the capacity to respond in a crisis.

In a vote on Thursday, the Committee on Budgets adopted a resolution on “Upscaling the 2021-2027 MFF: a resilient EU budget fit for new challenges” with 26 votes in favour, 2 against and 2 abstentions.

MEPs underline that the current multiannual financial framework (MFF) has already been “pushed to its limits” less than two years after it was adopted, a situation aggravated by the unforeseeable events of 2022, like the war in Ukraine. They point out that it is “simply not equipped, in terms of size, structure or rules, to respond quickly and effectively to a multitude of crises” and are “very concerned that the current MFF leaves the Union ill-equipped to respond to any potential future crises and needs and to fulfil its strategic role in the international arena”.

A stronger, more transparent, flexible budget and a common crisis instrument

MEPs say the revision must provide new funding for new political priorities and ensure a stronger and more agile EU budget that “meets the highest standards of transparency and democratic accountability”. They request therefore that the MFF be increased, and ask for more budgetary flexibility and a “common crisis instrument” to be able to react quickly in a crisis.

Repayment of recovery plan borrowing must not jeopardise EU programmes

The repayment of debt and borrowing costs from the EU recovery instrument must be placed outside the MFF ceilings, MEPs demand. Otherwise, these costs, in a context of rising interest rates, could lead to funding for programmes such as Erasmus+, EU4Health, Creative Europe and Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values being reduced.

Review in 2023

The European Commission has announced it will propose an “ambitious review” of the MFF in the second quarter of 2023. It stated in May that “the unforeseen needs created by war in Europe are well beyond the means available in the current multiannual financial framework. Therefore, new financing sources will have to be identified.

Quotes

Co-rapporteur Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL) said: “We believe that the EU’s long-term budget has not been designed to address new challenges, especially the numerous unforeseen crises that the EU has recently faced. Therefore we call for an urgent revision of the current MFF in order to adapt the budget to the new conditions we find ourselves in.”

Co-rapporteur Margarida Marques (S&D, PT) said: “The way forward on the EU budget is to move from an ad hoc to a structural approach. This will better support citizens, families and businesses facing the challenges of climate change and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while the EU is still recovering from a pandemic. Given the situation, we call on the Commission to revise the EU’s long-term budget and to establish an additional permanent special instrument over and above the MFF ceilings.”

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