New narratives emerging on EU finances

Mario Monti and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at a press conference
Former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti (L) led a high-level group on expanding EU revenue; its January 2017 report stopped short of endorsing the power to tax (source: dpa)
  • Lack of own revenue and seven-year financial plans have hamstrung EU finances
  • This “budget corset” often forces cheating as bills for multiyear programs go unpaid
  • Instead of curbing spending, the EU is now searching for more revenue sources
  • An “EU tax” is not yet on the agenda, but a separate eurozone budget might be

Every seven years, the European Union adopts a new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) that establishes how much it can spend over a seven-year period, both in total and in designated policy areas. Even though most European citizens are unaware of it, the shift to a new MFF is always an important moment, because it gives EU leaders an opportunity to rethink their political priorities.

Inter-institutional negotiations laying out the basis for the next MFF (covering the period 2021-2027) have recently begun. Next May, the European Commission will present a first proposal to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU – the two branches of the EU budget authority – in the hope that a final agreement can be reached before spring 2019, when the next European parliamentary elections are held.

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