Communicating and perceiving the EU budget: Challenges and outcomes

03-05-2021

This analysis presents the EU budget as a subject of communication, while also outlining its importance for the perception of the EU's democratic legitimacy and the challenges involved in presenting it to the citizens. Currently, there are more Europeans supporting a bigger EU budget than ever before (48 %), and the distribution of opinions cannot be explained simply by identifying them as belonging to the group of the net beneficiaries or that of the net contributors. Citizens' perceptions and desires regarding EU budget spending priorities are very different. Moreover, their perceptions are rather different from the actual EU spending priorities as well. The size and scope of the EU budget, budgetary cycles and timelines, revenue and expenditure structures, performance, different EU and national, institutional and political actors – these are all factors influencing the way citizens understand and relate to the EU budget. Some recent changes, such as the increased focus on results in budgetary reporting and the reform of the system of own resources, have the potential to contribute positively to the EU budget communication and to make it more comprehensible to citizens.

This analysis presents the EU budget as a subject of communication, while also outlining its importance for the perception of the EU's democratic legitimacy and the challenges involved in presenting it to the citizens. Currently, there are more Europeans supporting a bigger EU budget than ever before (48 %), and the distribution of opinions cannot be explained simply by identifying them as belonging to the group of the net beneficiaries or that of the net contributors. Citizens' perceptions and desires regarding EU budget spending priorities are very different. Moreover, their perceptions are rather different from the actual EU spending priorities as well. The size and scope of the EU budget, budgetary cycles and timelines, revenue and expenditure structures, performance, different EU and national, institutional and political actors – these are all factors influencing the way citizens understand and relate to the EU budget. Some recent changes, such as the increased focus on results in budgetary reporting and the reform of the system of own resources, have the potential to contribute positively to the EU budget communication and to make it more comprehensible to citizens.