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EU Financing / Budgetary Affairs, PUBLICATIONS

How the EU budget is spent: Spending programmes under the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework

Geldscheine und Münzen vor der Flagge der Europäischen Union

© Zerbor / Fotolia

The EU budget corresponds to around 2 % of total public spending in the European Union, and its impact on the economy is debated, with many analysts deeming it relatively small in size in comparison with the wide range of policy areas in which the EU has responsibilities. However, the EU budget has features that can amplify its impact, starting with the underpinning idea that pooling resources at EU level can be more efficient and effective in a number of policy areas than individual expenditure by Member States.

For those interested in knowing more about the EU budget, the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has produced a series of publications on ‘How the EU budget is spent’. The aim is to give a concise overview of the key features of major EU spending programmes and funds for the 2014-2020 period, including: the role of the EU in the policy area, objectives, budgetary figures, eligible measures, funded projects and assessment of results.

The titles in the series show the variety of activities currently funded from the EU budget, giving a taste of the role that these measures play for citizens, business and public authorities across the EU and beyond. The series was launched in 2015 with a publication on the LIFE programme, which supports projects addressing environment- and climate-related issues. In 2019, seven new titles have been published, and these include analysis of instruments such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the European Fund for Strategic Development (EFSD) that were agreed after the start of the 2014-2020 period, to address specific challenges.

Ahead of the European Parliament’s last plenary session of the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, all the publications in the series are now collected in this compendium to provide a handy overview of current EU funding instruments. While the series is not exhaustive, it covers instruments accounting for most of the expenditure side of the EU budget in the 2014-2020 period. The funds and programmes are presented according to the current structure of the EU’s multi-year financial planning – the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the years 2014 to 2020 – and the order of the programmes in official budgetary documents produced by the European Commission.

In addition, an annex sets out and updates the budgetary figures, for all the programmes and funds covered in the compendium, for the entire 2014-2020 period. The allocations set in the original legal bases have evolved – slightly or significantly. Depending on the budgetary instruments, these changes have come for different reasons. For example, while technical adjustments and updates of Member States’ cohesion policy envelopes are built into the MFF, the unexpected migration and refugee crisis of 2015-2016 has led to the reinforcement of the resources allocated to the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) through the use of the flexibility provisions of the framework.

Against the background of the ongoing negotiations for the post-2020 MFF and the vibrant debate on the future of EU finances, this compendium offers a simple tool to understand better the starting point of those discussions.


Read the compendium on ‘How the EU budget is spent: Spending programmes under the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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