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Structure of the EU budget

The EU budget is published in 2 volumes in all official EU languages. See also EU budget online.The EU budget is published in 2 volumes in all official EU languages. See also EU budget online.

Overall structure of the EU budget

The budget consists of:

  • General revenue
  • Revenue and expenditure by section:
    • Section I – Parliament
    • Section II – European Council and Council
    • Section III – Commission
    • Section IV – Court of Justice
    • Section V – Court of Auditors
    • Section VI – Economic and Social Committee
    • Section VII – Committee of the Regions
    • Section VIII – European Ombudsman
    • Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor
    • Section X – European External Action Service

The vast majority – 95% of the EU budget – goes to fund concrete activities on the ground in the many areas of EU policy. This expenditure ("operational appropriations") is paid out by the Commission (Section III).

However, section III also includes a small amount of administrative expenditure necessary for the Commission to function.

All the other sections of the budget deal solely with the administrative expenditure of the institutions.

How is the Commission budget (Section III) structured?

The Commission budget is structured in titles, chapters, articles and items. Each policy area corresponds to a title (e.g. 'Research and innovation policy area' corresponds to 'title 08') under the responsibility of a Commission's Directorate General (DG). The first chapter 01 of each title covers administrative expenditure while the others concerns operational expenditure.

Spending programmes (e.g. Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, etc.) are closely related to the headings in the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020 and are placed within operational chapters of the responsible DG. The budget lines at the level of articles and items indicate the general and specific objectives pursued by the programme (see example below):

  • Title 08 — Research and innovation
    • Chapter 08 02 — Horizon 2020 — Research
      • Article 08 02 01 — Excellent science
        • Item 08 02 01 01 — Strengthening frontier research in the European Research Council.

This structure gives a transparent overview on the budget allocations to each policy area and indicates the link between objectives and financial resources.

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