The EU needs to update its long-term financing plan to cope with new priorities and challenges such as mass migration, internal security and youth unemployment, said MEPs in a resolution voted on Wednesday. The text sets out political recommendations for the EU Commission’s forthcoming proposal to revise the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2014-2020. The update should also tackle the recurring backlog of overdue EU payments, and look beyond 2020, add MEPs.

Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL), one of the two lead MEPs, said "A genuine mid–term revision of the MFF is indispensable to enable the Union to respond effectively to a number of challenges it currently faces, while fulfilling its political objectives. We expect the European Commission to table a thorough and honest review and as a consequence, a proposal for a set of qualitative and quantitative changes to the MFF that will allow the EU to adapt to today's situation and attain its political goals. The EU budget must reflect the Union's political commitments."

Isabelle Thomas (S&D, FR) the other lead MEP, said. "The new challenges that have arisen in the past two years have revealed that this financial framework is now obsolete. Its rapid and deep revision has become urgent, to restore Europe's capacity for action.''


New crisis reserve to replace ad hoc funds

MEPs stress that the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) regulation “provides for the possibility of revising the MFF in the event of unforeseen circumstances.” The revision should allow priorities to be reassessed, they add. They point to the magnitude of the crises that have hit the EU since the current MFF was approved in 2013, including migration and refugees, terrorist attacks and internal security issues, the crisis in agriculture, low investment and persistently high unemployment, especially among young people. They also suggest that every euro committed in the EU budget should be used, and any surplus kept, to help meet current needs.

To improve budget flexibility, MEPs propose that a permanent “crisis reserve” be created within the EU budget to avoid ad hoc solutions and the setting up of trust funds. This mechanism should operate as a new special instrument over and above the MFF ceilings, they say, starting after 2020.


Flexibility, simplification and unity

MEPs propose a series of adjustments to the current MFF to make it more flexible and enable the EU to respond promptly to unforeseen crises. They also say the review offers an excellent opportunity to simplify the implementation system; to this end, they ask the Commission to identify shortcomings and come up with concrete proposals to enable maximum use of scarce resources.

The shortage of resources has forced the EU to set up ad hoc instruments such as funds financed jointly by the member states, the EU budget and the EU Development Fund (e.g. Madad Trust Fund, EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and Refugee Facility for Turkey).

But the proliferation of such instruments, in the absence of an overall budgetary strategy for dealing with crises, creates a problem of accountability and democratic control in the EU, MEPS argue. Above all, member states have so far largely failed to deliver their expected contributions to the trust funds, thus undermining their success, they add.


Payments backlog


MEPs reiterate that payment appropriations are the consequence of past commitments and say that the mid-term revision of the MFF is an opportunity to prevent a recurring payments backlog by taking stock of payments made and setting out a clear strategy for meeting all payment needs.


Next steps

The EU Commission is obliged to present its MFF review by the end of 2016. Once agreed, MEPs want changes to be implemented without delay and included in the budget for 2017. Moreover, some elements of the next MFF should be already debated in the framework of this revision.