The European Union Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020: How to do more for less?

5 / 2013

The European Council meeting on 7 and 8 February 2013 attracted an unusual level of attention from media and citizens. For a couple of days, Europe played a more important role in national politics and news. Sensation-frenzied media and excited politicians spouted notions of ‘a battle’, ‘winners’, ‘losers’ or ‘striking deals’, as if Europe had gone back to the time when its military powers still conflicted. After more than 24 hours of intense negotiations, the respective Member States leaders left Brussels with ‘good news’ for their citizens. However, those with more Euro-federalist feelings were left with a sense of non-accomplishment and missed opportunities, not only because the EU budget for the first time in history was set for a net decrease, but also because the European Council’s conclusions did not contain any ground-breaking changes to this system. Nevertheless, the European Parliament (EP) immediately reminded Europe about its role and outlined its conditions for further negotiations. Thus, the supporters of a modern and stronger EU budget still see a chance in the consent procedure and hope to shift the focus of the debate from the juste retour spirit to the consideration of the European common good. Is there still a chance for such a shift? What issues are at stake?