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Conference onthe future of EU finances

The conference, held in Brussels yesterday, brought together a great variety of stakeholders from Member States, think tanks and EU institutions, in order to discuss the challenges ahead for the EU budget, and the ways to address them. The event was a further step in the debate launched by theReflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances, seeking to develop a European budget fit for the future.

Commissioners Günther H. Oettinger, Corina Creţu, and Mariya Gabriel addressed the conference. Guest speakers included Pascal Lamy and Mario Monti, who chaired high level groups devoted to maximising the impact ofEU Research and Innovation programmes, andOwn Resources, respectively.

To illustrate the impact of EU spending and its added value, a special edition of Commission en direct's 'People Behind Priorities' video series was made for the conference, and shown to participants.

In her opening speech, Commissioner Creţu said: "the time has come to be prepared for choices." Next May, the Commission will submit its proposal for the post-2020 MFF to the European Parliament, as announced by President Juncker in the State of the European Union address. For the Commission, she added: "this means first and foremost a budget that grants absolute priority to European added value."

The value added by the EU budget was the focus of the presentation by Daniel Gros, director for the Centre for European Policy Studies, who kicked-off the first panel on the challenges Europe faces and how EU finances can contribute to their solution. The ultimate goal, as he put it, is ensuring that every euro invested at EU level has a bigger impact than if it had been spent at national level.

Focus on research and innovation

A second panel was devoted to research and innovation, one of the many areas where EU finances provide particular added value. Commissioner Gabriel called for a "considerable increase" in public and private investment in order to make the EU a "major digital champion." She said that there are "alarming signs" that

Europe is lagging behind in terms of digitisation of its economy, in areas like 5G, for example.

"We absolutely have to have a high quality connected society in Europe; that is vital for our economic and social well-being," she added. Along similar lines, Pascal Lamy stressed the need to at least double the funding for research and development, as proposed in the recommendations of his high level group. The last panel engaged in a more political debate on how to design a long-term budget that will help to future-proof Europe. Commissioner Oettinger referred to security, climate change, border protection and defence policy as some of the key areas for the future. He also stressed the role of cohesion policy to support structurally weak regions, and that of agricultural policy, to ensure that the countryside remains an economically attractive place to live.

The Commissioner also reminded his audience that, on average, for every €100 generated by a European worker, just €1 of tax goes to the EU budget. "Could we not attach slightly greater importance to Europe?" he asked. In the next framework, he pledged "not to propose spending a single euro that doesn't have added value."

Furthermore, he called on Member States to make the future budget a priority in the Council and to look at the Commission's proposal"in detail and early on."

Closing the conference, Commissioner Oettinger said:"It is our ambition to bring a proposal which is balanced between net payers and Cohesion Fund Member States, between different positions of the European Parliament, which is ambitious, but realistic."

Watch some videos of the conference!

by Corina Crețu, Member of the European Commission, responsible for Regional Policy

Keynote speech
Policy Focus on Research, Innovation & Emerging technologies
by Mariya Gabriel, Member of the European Commission, responsible for Digital Economy and Society

Keynote speech
An EU budget fit for future Europe
by Günther H. Oettinger, Member of the European Commission responsible for Budget and Human Resources

3rd panel "An EU budget fit for future Europe"

Closing Remarks
by Günther H. Oettinger, Member of the European Commission responsible for Budget and Human Resources

Media review

Some pictures from the conference


  People behind EU results

Financial instruments: Smart money


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