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EU budget post-UK: Infrastructure, R&D, innovation need prioritisation
In the final full year of policy-making before the May 2019 European elections, a high degree of attention will understandably fall on the second phase of Brexit negotiations.
Meanwhile, away from the limelight, the proposal of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the period after 2020 will set out the maximum annual amounts the EU may spend in a range of areas, from agriculture to international aid.
The next MFF will be the first without the UK's significant contribution. With this in mind, as part of its broader 'Future of Europe' project, the Commission launched last year its reflection paper on the future of EU finances. The paper reshapes the UK's withdrawal as an 'opportunity for a vital discussion about the modernisation of the EU budget', and presents five possible scenarios for the future: 'carrying on'; 'doing less together'; 'some do more'; 'radical redesign'; 'doing much more together'.
As leading investors in the European economy, AmCham EU followed the discussions closely, and is pleased that the Commission has pledged to prioritise those areas which will bring the greatest added value to national spending. Due attention should be paid to promoting investment in infrastructure, research & development and innovation, all of which are essential to strengthening Europe as an attractive place to invest in and do business.
The Commission is expected to reach out to its stakeholders broadly throughout its preparation of the proposal. As a first step, consultations on the future of EU programmes like Erasmus+ and the Connecting Europe Facility were launched earlier this month. Further input will be provided by the co-legislators, with the Council expected to publish its recommendation on the next MFF in February, followed by two own-initiative reports from the European Parliament in March. The second half of May should see the publication of the final proposal.
By Jarrod Birch, Policy Adviser (JBI@amchameu.eu)