Funding the future EU: the multi-annual financial framework
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič gave the closing address at European Parliament conference on the future multi-annual financial framework (MFF) – the next EU budget.
The conference, which brought together representatives from the European Commission, Parliament, Council, Member States and national parliaments, looked at the key issues that will need to be ironed out before an agreement is reached on the next MFF, which will come into force from 2014.
These include the proposed financial transaction tax (FTT) – which would contribute to the EU's own resources and potentially reduce the contribution from national governments – and what areas to prioritise for expenditure in the current climate of reduced budgets and austerity measures.
V-P Šefčovič, in his concluding remarks, said the conference had been "a valuable opportunity to bring together a wide range of participants with different perspectives on the future budget of the European Union".
Constructive as the meeting was, V-P Šefčovič said he was under no illusions about the difficult negotiations that lay ahead if an agreement on the MFF was to be reached by the end of 2012.
"The next few months will require a lot of dedicated and hard work from all of us who are involved in the process. But this effort is necessary in order to provide the finances that are necessary for the next period and to determine the priority areas for the expenditure."
Summing up contributions from his fellow Commissioners he highlighted President Barroso's comments about the added value of EU funding compared to national investments, and in particular the claims by budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski that the proposed financial transaction tax could cut Member States contributions to the EU budget by 50%, according to preliminary analyses, provided that there is agreement that two-thirds of the MFF revenues could be used as EU own resources.
Finally, V-P Šefčovič welcomed the spirit of optimism from all sides that the differences of opinion can all be resolved by the end of the year. "I believe that we are on the right track to reaching an agreement on the next financial framework by the end of 2012 that is fair and balanced and retains the ambition and focus of the Commission's proposals. We owe it to ourselves and to our constituencies – the voters, the stakeholders, the citizens – to design a framework that responds to the challenges that the Union faces now and into the future."