The EU’s long-term budget helps millions of students, thousands of researchers, cities, businesses, regions and NGOs. It contributes to healthier and safer food, new and better roads, railways and airports, a cleaner environment and better security at the EU’s external borders.
The idea behind it is that pulling resources together makes Europe stronger and is key to boosting prosperity and peace. It continues to do that by financing projects that benefit the lives of millions of Europeans.
What is the EU’s long-term budget?
The EU’s long-term budget is also sometimes referred to as the multiannual financial framework (MFF). It sets the limit on how much money the EU can spend over a period of at least five years in different policy areas. Recent long-term budgets have been set for seven years.
One of the reasons the EU has a long-term budget as well as annual budgets is to make it easier to plan for the programmes that the EU wants to fund and increase their efficiency. This predictability is needed for example for researchers who work on scientific projects that take several years to complete.
The long-term budget also needs to have a degree of flexibility to deal with unforeseen crises and emergencies. It therefore includes a number of instruments to ensure that money can be used where it is most needed in unplanned circumstances.
For example, the EU solidarity fund is designed to provide financial assistance in the event of a major disaster in a member state. It also has a globalization adjustment fund intended to help workers find new employment if they have been made redundant as a result of structural changes in world trade patterns or an economic crisis.
Unlike national budgets, the EU’s budget is more of an investment budget. It doesn’t fund social protection, primary education or national defence. Instead the focus is mostly on areas where the EU can make a difference by boosting growth and competitiveness.