Today the European Court of Auditors (ECA) published a briefing paper on the Commission’s communication on the mid-term review: it comments on the financial analysis, the key proposals and the issues to be dealt with in the preparations for the next MFF.
The EU institutions are currently considering the mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 and a package of related legislative proposals that the Commission published in September 2016 with a view to taking important decisions on EU spending up to and beyond 2020.
The ECA considers that delays in implementing programmes under the current MFF and delays in closing previous programmes mean that the proposals have not benefited from any assessment of spending in the current period, and that there will be little opportunity to assess performance before the next MFF, which the Commission must present at the end of 2017. In addition, there is now a pressing need to tackle the growing complexity of the arrangements for funding EU policies, which certain mid-term review proposals may exacerbate. To address these issues, the ECA makes four proposals:
- reconsider the timetable for developing the next MFF;
- conduct a comprehensive EU spending review;
- develop clearer, simpler and more coherent funding arrangements;
- make EU budget priorities the subject of a high-level debate.
According to the auditors, these steps would enable the EU to develop a new approach to spending and investing EU funds, and as a result the EU budget will be more agile, directing limited resources quickly and flexibly where they will add most value; more efficient, delivering funds and results at a reasonable risk; and more transparent about how policies are funded and what results are achieved.
The mid-term review/revision of the 2014-2020 MFF is an opportunity to consider how to improve financial management and accountability and move towards an EU budgetary system that will regain the trust of citizens. The auditors’ insights are aimed at enriching current discussion, not only on the mid-term review but also, in the longer perspective, on the next and subsequent MFFs. The work underlying the briefing paper was led by ECA Member Mihails Kozlovs.
EU Budget: time to reform? ECA briefing paper on the 2014-2020 MFF mid-term review is currently available in English and French; other languages will be added shortly.