2018 – The Year of the EU Budget

©European Commission

The negotiation of the future Multi-annual Financial Framework will be the political priority of the year. Cuts will be made, but will the EU keep investing in health?

Although it was expected, the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Junker left no room for doubt: setting the tone for what promises to be the European Union’s ‘Hunger Games’, he announced an ambitious timeline, with the publication of proposals for sectoral Programmes set for May 2018, and their adoption in May 2019, that is, before the European Elections and the end of the current Commission’s mandate.

Brexit’s impact on the budget: saving or finding new resources?

The Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) is a long-term planning that influences both the political priorities of the EU, as well as the annual budgets.

One of the headaches of planning the next budget framework is the dilemma following Brexit: finding the money to fill the gap left by the departure of the United Kingdom, a net contributor to the budget, or reduce the overall budget by as much? Commissioner Öttinger pleaded for 50% sparing and 50% fresh money, with an increase of Member States contribution from 1% of their GDP to “1.1 and something” per cent. This will be a difficult battle, as the 27 national governments are already struggling with their own national budgets.

But what will the budget focus on?

Divided in different areas or fields (headings), the Multi-annual Financial Framework also lays down the maximum amounts (ceilings) that can be spent both per heading.

With 70% of European citizens wanting the European Union to do more in the field of health, one would expect health to have a significant place in the upcoming budget. But health was not mentioned once during last week’s Conference on the Future of EU Finances.

Instead, the Commission shared its plans to place more emphasis on internal and external security, (as they call it ‘the Europe of Defence’) as well as on migration. There are some ‘exceptions’: the youth and employment sector and research should be the only two sectors to see the budget of their respective programmes - ERASMUS+ and FP9, the successor to H2020 - preserved, and even increased. Cuts – or as Öttinger put it, “increased flexibility”- are expected for all the other sectors.

Health gets political recognition in the European Parliament

Despite the absence of mention by the Commission, health is gaining political recognition in another important arena that will decide on the MFF, the European Parliament. Earlier this week, the released draft report on the future of EU Finances prepared by MEPs Jan Olbrycht and Isabelle Thomas from the BUDGET Committee entails a strong reference to health, stating that “on the basis of the positive outcome of the ongoing actions in this field, the next MFF should include a robust next generation Health programme that addresses these issues on a cross-border basis”.

Join our #EU4HEALTH Campaign

To ensure that the EU keeps investing in health, EPF together with a coalition of public health NGOs, is campaigning for the continuation of European health collaboration in the next EU political period. “We believe that Member States need support to address cross-border health threats and transnational health opportunities: this starts with a budget that acknowledges the importance of health, and gives the EU the means to deliver on patients’ and citizens’ expectations”, says Marco Greco, EPF President. You can join the campaign by following the Hashtag #EU4HEALTH. More info: https://epha.org/eu-do-more-for-health-campaign/

Contact person: Camille Bullot, EPF Director of Operations & Engagement