The European Union’s multiannual financial framework (MFF) which sets the financial agenda for the post-2020 period should reflect EU priorities and respond to the aspirations and concerns of EU citizens. It should also demonstrate EU solidarity and its readiness to strengthen competitiveness, security and sustainability, as well as social, territorial and economic cohesion. So said José Manuel Fernandes, the European People’s Party (EPP) coordinator in the European Parliament’s Budget Committee.

He was commenting on the European Parliament’s final position on the next long-term EU budget and the reform of the EU’s own resources – reports to be put to a vote March 14. These were co-authored by EPP MEPs Jan Olbrycht and Janusz Lewandowski.

“We want a strong and ambitious European Union that lives up to citizens’ expectations; considering the United Kingdom’s exit from the Union, the budget should change to 1.3% of EU27 GNI and be financed through actual own resources,” said Fernandes.

He stressed that only this kind of budget will allow support at the current level for agriculture and cohesion policies, while providing for additional funding to deal with new challenges such as security, defence or migration.

In turn, Olbrycht called for the continuation of the EU’s ambitious agenda. “It is not about the MFF, it is about the future of the European Union. Only the timely adoption of the post-2020 EU Budget will allow for shaping EU programmes and launching them on time, on 1 January 2021.”

“In the current political situation, more than ever before, we have to discuss the expenditure and the revenue sides of the European Budget at the same time,” added Lewandowski, who is a former European Commissioner for financial programming and the budget. “For many years the European Parliament has called on the member states to do this. It is our condition sine qua non for a final agreement with the Council. This is the only way to respond to the new challenges of today and tomorrow.

“We need a simpler system of EU own resources that is more understandable for European taxpayers,” he stressed.

In related news, co-chairs of the European Green Party Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer said: “Europe must be bold and ambitious as it hammers out its budget priorities for the post-2020 period.  We need a plan with embedded flexibility that is both robust and future-proof.”

They warned that Brexit is expected to burn a € 13bn hole per year in the EU’s budget. “So we must be both strategic and creative if we are to emerge future-oriented. Rather than letting Brexit dampen our resolve, we must instead forge ahead with new ideas, without being held back by complicated and time-consuming opt-out clauses that were afforded to the UK.”

The Green Party MEPs said the EU must focus on the quality of its spending in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. “Providing the right circumstances for our young people must underpin all of our priorities,” they said. “Employers must be incentivised to provide gainful employment to students entering the job market.”