The European Council and the Multiannual Financial Framework

21-02-2018

With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the MFF was for the first time given a legal basis in the EU Treaties and a new procedure was introduced for its adoption. The MFF is now laid down in a regulation adopted by the Council, acting in accordance with a special legislative procedure, once European Parliament consent is obtained. The post-2020 MFF process will represent the second full application of this new procedure, following the negotiations on the MFF for 2014-2020. The Treaty of Lisbon also established the European Council as one of the seven institutions of the European Union and defined its role and powers. In accordance with Article 15(1) TEU, the European Council 'shall provide the Union with the necessary impetus for its development and shall define the general political directions and priorities thereof'. Moreover, the European Council 'shall not exercise legislative functions'. Notwithstanding this prohibition on the exercise of legislative functions, and despite the lack of a formal role assigned to it in the financial provisions of the Treaties (Articles 310 to 324 TFEU), the European Council – as was already the case prior to the Lisbon Treaty – played a central role in the 2014-2020 MFF negotiation. Acting on the basis of its competence to 'define the general political directions and priorities', the European Council adopted detailed conclusions on the MFF, which purported to define the MFF ceilings and the financial envelopes for all policy sectors for the seven-year MFF period. In its resolution of 15 April 2014 on the lessons to be learned from the 2014-2020 negotiations, the European Parliament identified the impact of the European Council's involvement in the Parliament's legislative prerogatives as a matter of particular concern. The aspects most often considered when assessing the MFF and its negotiation process are the overall size of the budget, own resources, national bargaining positions, and the tensions between net beneficiary and net contributor countries. To date, only limited attention has been paid to the role of the European Council. This Briefing analyses the European Council's involvement in the process of adopting the 2014-2020 MFF during the different negotiation phases and outlines the concerns expressed by the Parliament in this respect. It also provides an indicative timeline and potential milestones for the post-2020 MFF negotiations and looks at the possible role of the European Council in this process, thereby attempting an initial assessment of possible similarities with and differences to the 2014-2020 MFF negotiations.

With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the MFF was for the first time given a legal basis in the EU Treaties and a new procedure was introduced for its adoption. The MFF is now laid down in a regulation adopted by the Council, acting in accordance with a special legislative procedure, once European Parliament consent is obtained. The post-2020 MFF process will represent the second full application of this new procedure, following the negotiations on the MFF for 2014-2020. The Treaty of Lisbon also established the European Council as one of the seven institutions of the European Union and defined its role and powers. In accordance with Article 15(1) TEU, the European Council 'shall provide the Union with the necessary impetus for its development and shall define the general political directions and priorities thereof'. Moreover, the European Council 'shall not exercise legislative functions'. Notwithstanding this prohibition on the exercise of legislative functions, and despite the lack of a formal role assigned to it in the financial provisions of the Treaties (Articles 310 to 324 TFEU), the European Council – as was already the case prior to the Lisbon Treaty – played a central role in the 2014-2020 MFF negotiation. Acting on the basis of its competence to 'define the general political directions and priorities', the European Council adopted detailed conclusions on the MFF, which purported to define the MFF ceilings and the financial envelopes for all policy sectors for the seven-year MFF period. In its resolution of 15 April 2014 on the lessons to be learned from the 2014-2020 negotiations, the European Parliament identified the impact of the European Council's involvement in the Parliament's legislative prerogatives as a matter of particular concern. The aspects most often considered when assessing the MFF and its negotiation process are the overall size of the budget, own resources, national bargaining positions, and the tensions between net beneficiary and net contributor countries. To date, only limited attention has been paid to the role of the European Council. This Briefing analyses the European Council's involvement in the process of adopting the 2014-2020 MFF during the different negotiation phases and outlines the concerns expressed by the Parliament in this respect. It also provides an indicative timeline and potential milestones for the post-2020 MFF negotiations and looks at the possible role of the European Council in this process, thereby attempting an initial assessment of possible similarities with and differences to the 2014-2020 MFF negotiations.