New EU programming 2021-2027: the Commission proposal

European Commission

The European Commission has presented the proposal for a new programming 2021-2027 for a European budget of 1,135 billion euros and 1,105 billion euros in payments that, taking into account inflation, correspond to the budget 2014-2020.

In view of the gap caused by Brexit and the Commission has proposed to concentrate European funds in areas where the impact of EU spending can be greater than that of national public spending, such as research projects and digital transformation, large infrastructure or initiatives aimed at providing the Union with the tools necessary to protect and defend its citizens.

On the cuts front, Brussels proposes that funding for the Common Agricultural Policy and Cohesion Policy be reduced modestly to take account of the new realities of a Union of 27.

European NGOs are seeing an increase in the overall budget for EU external action, but there are concerns about how these funds will be distributed within the operational instruments. The current proposal, which combines 12 instruments, could jeopardise the objectives of development cooperation in favour of the EU’s external policy interests.

Resources for Erasmus Plus, LIFE and the Ninth Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the successor to Horizon 2020, are increasing and CAP funds for agriculture and cohesion are decreasing.

The Commission also proposed increasing development aid, resources for defence research investment, security and the management of the Union’s external borders, including an increase in Frontex staff.

The Commission has also proposed to simplify the structure of the European budget by reducing the number of programmes by more than a third (from the current 58 to 37 in the future) and rationalising the use of financial instruments, including through the Invest EU Fund.

In addition, in order to increase the Union’s response capacity, the Commission has proposed greater flexibility within and between programmes, the strengthening of crisis management instruments and the creation of a new “Union reserve” which would make it possible to deal with unforeseen events and respond to emergency situations in areas such as security and migration.

While not accepting the Italian request to link access to EU funds to the fulfilment of commitments on the reception of migrants, the Commission has provided for a form of political macro conditionality, strengthening the link between EU funding and the rule of law, an essential prerequisite for sound financial management and the effectiveness of EU funds.

The new mechanism would allow the EU to suspend, reduce or restrict access to EU funding in proportion to the nature, severity and scope of the deficiencies relating to the rule of law, through decisions proposed by the Commission and adopted by the Council by reverse qualified majority voting.

Juncker called for the possibility of post-2020 proposals being approved before the 2019 European elections.

Let us remember that the budget and the programming must be approved unanimously and it will then be first the European Parliament and then the Council that will decide unanimously on the size and characteristics of the European budget 2021-2027 and the next generation of financial programmes.

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