FIEC’s budget concerns
By Sandy Guthrie09 May 2018
Uncertainties still exist over the European Union’s budget for 2021 to 2027, according to FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation), which pointed out that the EU Cohesion Policy budget would be reduced.
The European Commission has recently unveiled its first raft of proposals for the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) 2021 to 2027.
It provides for a total of €1.135 trillion in commitments (at 2018 prices) – a figure that corresponds to 1.114% of the gross national income (GNI) of the EU27.
FIEC said that while the figures were the subject of much debate in the press, the European Commission had stated that the future long-term budget for 2021 to 2027 would be broadly similar to the one for the current period of 2014 to 2020, with a mix of cuts and additional revenues to match both the impact of Brexit (the UK’s decision to leave the EU) and of new priorities such as migration, defence, etc.
On the positive side, said FIEC, more budget would be dedicated to priorities like research and innovation with €100 billion, digital transition with €12 billion, and education and training, which will see the Erasmus+ initiative – a funding scheme to support activities in the fields of education, training, youth and sport – get €30 billion.
FIEC said that on the negative side, the budget for the Cohesion Policy – which supports regional and local infrastructure, energy efficiency and training/skills, for instance – will be reduced by between 7% and 10%. Details about the new Cohesion Policy will be unveiled at the end of the month.
As regards the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) – the budget line for transport, energy and ICT (information and communication technologies) networks – FIEC said its global envelope was being increased from €29.9 billion today to more than €42 billion after 2020.
“However, it is not yet clear how much the envelope dedicated to transport infrastructure will benefit from this increase,” said FIEC.
It reported that for the rest, the European Commission had announced the creation of new own resources, as well as the simplification of the various programmes and their rules.
As an example, it said that all existing financial instruments – for example loans, etc – would be gathered in one single investment fund called InvestEU, which is the successor to the financial arm of the Juncker Investment Plan.
The European Commission is calling for a political agreement on the MFF 2021 to 2027 before the European Summit on 9 May, 2019, in Sibiu, Romania.
According to FIEC, most experts say that this is not realistic.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, said, “The new budget is an opportunity to shape our future as a new, ambitious Union of 27 bound together by solidarity.”
He said that with the proposal a vision had been put forward for “the kind of Union we
want, as well as a pragmatic plan for how we can make it happen”.
He said, “For the first time in our history, a rule of law mechanism will ensure sound financial management of the Union’s budget and protect taxpayer’s money.
“The ball is now in the court of Parliament and Council, and I believe we should aim to have agreement before the European Parliament elections next year.’
Günther H Oettinger, Commissioner for Budget & Human Resources, said, “This budget proposal is truly about EU added value. We invest even more in areas where one single Member State cannot act alone or where it is more efficient to act together – be it research, migration, border control or defence.
“And we continue to finance traditional – but modernised – policies, such as Common Agricultural Policy and Cohesion Policy, because we all benefit from the high standard of our agricultural products and regions catching up economically.”