Flexibility mechanisms enable the EU to mobilise the necessary funds to react to unforeseen events such as crisis and emergency situations. Their scope, financial allocation and operating modalities are provided for in the MFF regulation and the Interinstitutional Agreement. In the current context of reduced expenditure, they also ensure that budgetary resources can respond to evolving priorities, so that every euro is used where it is most needed. Most of the flexibility mechanisms are therefore kept outside the MFF and the funding can be mobilised above the expenditure ceilings.
Taking into account past experience, the scope for intervention for some special instruments, such as the Emergency Aid Reserve has been broadened, the maximum allocation increased and the carrying over of unused amounts to the following year(s) has been allowed.
The Emergency Aid Reserve is designed to finance humanitarian, civilian crisis management and protection operations in non-EU countries in order to quickly respond to unforeseen events. For example, the Emergency Aid Reserve was mobilised in 2012 following the outbreak of conflict in Syria, the conflicts in Mali and the drought in the Sahel.
The EU Solidarity Fund aims to release emergency financial aid following a major disaster in a Member State or candidate country, such as the 2009 earthquake in the Italian Abruzzo region or the 2012 floods in Germany. Aid is managed by the recipient country, and should be used to rebuild basic infrastructure, fund emergency services, temporary accommodation or clean-up operations, or counter immediate health risks.
The Flexibility instrument provides funding for clearly identified expenses which cannot be covered by the EU budget without exceeding the maximum annual amount for expenditure set out in the MFF. For example, the Flexibility instrument was used in 2009 to contribute to the financing of energy projects in the context of the European Economic Recovery Plan and to the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant in Bulgaria.
The European Globalisation Fund aims to help workers reintegrate into the labour market after they have been made redundant as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns (e.g: as a consequence of the global financial and economic crisis). For example, it supported Belgian workers after the General Motors Antwerp plant closed-down.
In addition to these existing instruments, new flexibility measures have been introduced in the MFF 2014-2020: