Greening the EU Budget - what are the issues?

Agreeing the post-2013 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is one of the most critical political challenges lying ahead for the European Union (EU). In the run up to the legislative proposals on the post 2013 MFF due in June 2011,  this policy brief offers a short analysis of some critical aspects of the debate and outlines a set of ‘stepping stones’ for strengthening the environmental dimension of the proposals.

The most pressing worry for heads of states and governments is how Europe will get out of the economic crisis. However, a business-as-usual approach will not suffice here. Making the transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy cannot be postponed for another decade. There is no choice but to build this goal into forthcoming plans for a sustainable economic recovery and consequent action to promote competitive industries, innovative technologies and stable jobs. A key priority for the next MFF therefore is to achieve a shift in the European economy so that it is greener measured both by carbon efficiency and by overall environmental performance and is also creating new skills, jobs and investment towards recovery. The environment, including the climate dimension, is integral to this agenda and must be recognised as such. Conversely, the next MFF is more important for the environment and the sustainability of the European economy than any of its predecessors.

The discussion about the next MFF comes at a time when major turning points in Union policy are being approached. Long-term roadmaps for critical areas such as climate change and energy and resource efficiency are currently being developed under the Europe 2020 Strategy process. Strategic proposals on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Cohesion Policy, funding for the environment and other topics will be published this summer. All have a budget dimension, in short, the priorities for the next decade extend well beyond the Europe 2020 agenda and the post-2013 MFF should not be confined to this economic strategy.