The EU budget
The EU budget combines resources at European level. As well as funding the EU’s priorities, it also finances big infrastructure and research projects. It also helps fund responses to challenges that go beyond its borders, such as the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and the threat of terrorism.
The EU budget is complementary to EU countries’ national budgets: it prevents the duplication of efforts and comes into play when it is more effective to spend money at EU level than at local, regional or national level.
The EU budget is also about solidarity – it enables the EU to support less wealthy Member States in their economic development. Thanks to it, the EU can give a helping hand to EU countries when they are hit by natural disasters.
Solidarity also means supporting your neighbours or other third countries, and helping improve the lives of their citizens. The EU budget allows the EU to keep and even strengthen its role as a global player and to remain, together with its Member States, the world’s leading development and humanitarian aid donor.
Tackling the coronavirus crisis
The European Commission has taken a wide range of measures to respond to the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, such as
- providing loans of up to €100 billion for short-term employment schemes under the SURE programme;
- creating the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+) to allow EU countries to use cohesion policy funding to support the sectors most at risk from the pandemic;
- signing contracts with six pharmaceutical companies to make sure people have access to COVID-19 vaccines;
- mobilising €2.7 billion under the Emergency Support Instrument to help EU countries mitigate the immediate financial cost of the pandemic;
- providing up to €806.9 billion in current prices under the NextGenerationEU recovery instrument to help bring about a greener, more digital and more sustainable recovery.
Everyone benefits from the EU budget
The EU budget is not and has never been about giving and taking. It has always been about pooling resources, standing together against common challenges and creating an EU added value. It has always been about helping Europeans live better lives.
The narrative about how much each EU country is getting out of the budget versus how much they are contributing is therefore flawed. This narrative does not take into account Member States’ benefits from the single market. Neither does it measure the business opportunities that cohesion policy – the EU’s main investment policy – creates for businesses from across the Union. The EU contributes significantly to the economies of its Member States and this is completely ignored in these calculations.
According to recent data put together in 2019, Member States’ benefits from the single market exceeded 6 times their contributions. This means a one-to-six return on investment. The ratio between benefits and contributions varies across EU countries, with some Member States benefitting even more. This is because the single market gives access to 450 million customers and creates opportunities that no EU country can offer on their own.
See below more examples of how the EU budget has made a difference so far, and how it will continue to do so in the period 2021-2027.
Stepping up in research and innovation
Research and innovation is key to unlocking future growth. The research programme Horizon Europe will continue to provide valuable support to top researchers and innovators to ensure a green, healthy and resilient Europe.
The European missions, for example, aim at achieving by 2030 3 million lives saved from cancer diseases, 100 climate neutral cities, healthy oceans, seas and internal waters, healthy soils and food, and regions resilient to climate changes.
Investment Plan for Europe
Since 2015, the European Fund for Strategic Investments has
- supported over 8.5 million jobs
- helped to provide renewable energy to 10 million households
- helped to provide high-speed internet to 15 million households.
In the period 2021-2027, the successor of the Investment Plan for Europe, InvestEU, will continue supporting investments in Europe.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will
- finance improved health services in the EU
- support investment in small businesses
- help reduce inequalities between European regions
- promote sustainable development
- improve access to new markets for goods, services and investment
- provide public procurement opportunities for infrastructure, information technology, research and development
Agriculture and environment
In the 2021-2027 period
- the common agricultural policy (CAP) will work to ensure access to safe, high quality, affordable, nutritious and diverse food, and support the transition towards fully sustainable agriculture and rural development
- the LIFE programme will finance projects aimed at improving air quality and conserving plant and animal species currently under threat.
- the new Just Transition Fund will support of the transition towards climate neutrality by lessening the impact of the transition in the regions most affected
Fight against terrorism
Under the EU budget, the Internal Security Fund will be reinforced to help to improve EU’s capacity to face security threats by
- exchanging information
- carrying out joint risk assessments and investigations
- using common technologies and joining forces to address common threats
In addition, the European Defence Fund will also continue promoting defence cooperation between industries of all sizes.
Addressing the challenge of migration
Some EU countries are more exposed to particular migratory pressures than others. In 2021-2027, support to strengthen the EU’s external borders is being increased in order to safeguard the asylum system within the EU. Countries will also receive more EU funds to help them better manage migration into the EU, such as through the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).