Budget Dramaturgy

Financing the EU's Future Challenges

26 November 2019

The debate on the financial perspectives of the European Union (EU) is traditionally part of a complex dramaturgy, which borders on the cacophony: the proponents of more European solidarity oppose supporters of a fair return, defenders of traditional sectoral policies confront the promoters of expenses intended to prepare for the future, new member states are pitted against the old ones and the North against the South.

To shed light on the fundamental issues of this debate, it is important to remember that the EU budget is not a mere accounting tool but a means to fulfil the Union’s political objectives. In addition, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is both an instrument for preparing the medium-term future of the Union and an expression of solidarity among its members.

Eric André Martin (right)

We must consider, in the light of the crisis experienced by the EU in recent years, from Ukraine to refugees and cyber attacks, that the Union’s intervention methods and expectations in this regard have changed. These crises are marked by “the return of politics in Europe” and a move to the “event-based” policies, which requires the EU to be more responsive and deal with unexpected situations that may arise at any time and place.

The need for responsiveness engages the credibility of the EU on the ground through its ability to match its rhetoric and actions. This is also a crucial issue for the citizens of the Union, who expect their leaders that they ensure their personal safety and that of the space in which they live but also protect them against economic shocks and social problems caused by globalisation.

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Eric André Martin

Research Fellow at the French Institute of International Relations

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