On 15 June, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission, opened a conference of experts at the Federal Foreign Office on the future of the EU’s multiannual financial framework. Steinmeier said we need to ask ourselves what changes have arisen since the financial framework was decided in 2013 and how the funding can be re-prioritised in this light.
For the 2014-2020 period, the European Union (EU) has almost 1,000 billion euros at its disposal for various policy areas. The EU’s multiannual financial framework is decided every seven years on the level of heads of state and government, most recently in June 2013. However, the foreign policy situation has changed significantly since then. This provides grounds for an assessment of the current financial framework.
New foreign policy situation
This was the reason why Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission, opened a conference of experts on the future of the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF) on 15 June. Steinmeier said he was under no illusions about how much we can amend the MFF in the middle of a financial period. “Nevertheless,” he added, “we have to ask ourselves what undeniable changes have arisen since the financial framework was finalised in spring 2013.”
He pointed out that from a foreign policy point of view, one can no longer compare the world of 2015 with the world as it was in spring 2013. “Not only has a raft of crises arisen, but they have advanced a lot closer to home.” In light of a dramatically different foreign policy situation, Steinmeier said that “it will be impossible for us to declare adjustments to the funding of joint foreign policy a taboo subject”.
At the same time, the citizens of Europe have high expectations of the EU – and quite rightly, as Steinmeier underlined.
Surveys show that people are mostly calling for “more Europe” in the field in which Europe is particularly poorly funded: in the area of security and foreign policy.
Steinmeier said this was why we must review the spheres in which the EU’s financial provision is still sufficient in the face of current challenges.
The Vice-President of the European Commission agreed with Steinmeier. She said this assessment was taking place at an early stage, but emphasised the need for it. She also pointed out that there had been a major change in the EU budget since 2012: the member states’ significantly higher needs now have to be met from a smaller budget. This meant it was important to analyse the new foreign policy situation in Europe and the world, and to explore how the flexible part of the budget could be properly deployed in this new environment.
A review of the MFF is scheduled for 2016. As the lead ministry in the German Government, the Federal Foreign Office thus launched a discussion on expectations and political realities with regard to the forthcoming mid-term review at the conference.