The next EU budget: challenges and opportunities for financing a geopolitical Union

Experts on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) give their input about the obstacles the Commission is facing with its aim for a fully agreed-on budget by the end of 2020.


Thomas Ossowski, Special Representative for the Negotiations of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework, Federal Foreign Office
Andreas Schwarz, Director Revenue and Multiannual Financial Framework, DG Budget, European Commission

Chaired by

Susi Dennison, Director, European Power programme and Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR                       
Christine Hackenesch, Head, Inter- and Transnational cooperation program, German Development Institute (DIE) 

With the European Parliament elections already feeling like a considerable time ago, the new Commission is now expected to assume office on the 1st of December. Its president-elect von der Leyen has conveyed the new leadership's ambition to be a geopolitical Commission committed to sustainable policies

These, as well as other ambitious commitments in the area of the EU's external action, are fully in line with her political guidelines presented in July, titled “A Union that strives for more”. Yet ambition requires means, and in this regard an equal and connected endeavour for the new leadership is successfully completing the negotiations of the EU's next multi-annual financial framework for the period 2021-2027. In June 2018, the Commission had tabled an ambitious new EU budget characterised by reform, tough choices, new aspirations and a budget where the 27 member states would increase relative spending so as to compensate for the anticipated withdrawal of the United Kingdom.

Good progress has been made during the past months in formulating the legal framework to govern the use of the budget under its various headings, ranging from research to the Union's structural funds. However, the negotiations of the overall budget have been characterised by shadow boxing and limited concrete progress. This has to change rapidly during the coming months, including under the German Presidency of the EU during the second half of 2020, with the end of December 2020 as the absolute deadline for reaching an agreement.

Against this backdrop, the European Council on Foreign Relations, the German Development Institute and the European Think Tanks Group are jointly organising an event in Berlin on Wednesday 20 November. Held under the Chatham House rule, we will bring together a small group of policy makers, researchers and civil society representatives – both from within and beyond Germany. Our aim is to consider the overall challenges and opportunities of the EU budget negotiations, and the specific challenges for ensuring a well funded and effective foreign and development policy.


12.30 Informal lunch

13.30 Introductory words and overview by Christine Hackenesch, DIE

14:00 Negotiating the EU Budget – current state of affairs and implications
          for financing EU external action

15.00 Coffee break

15.30 Prospects and challenges for financing the EU’s role as a global actor
          under the next MFF

16.30 Closing remarks by Susi Dennison, ECFR