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Briefing Notes (series)

EU Budget Consensus at the Expense of Development: State of Play and Options in Front of Negotiators

Briefing Note 46

December 2012

Mayer, L., Sherriff, A. 2012. EU Budget consensus at the expense of development: State of play and options in front of negotiators. (ECDPM Briefing Note 46, revised version). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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This Briefing Note gives an overview of four different possible options for negotiators in the next round of EU budget talks. Even through European heads of state and government failed to reach a consensus on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 during the extraordinary summit in late November 2012, the trend towards substantial cuts is clear. Development funding is likely to be particularly affected. The question is not whether there will be cuts, but rather how substantial they will be, where they will fall and what they will imply.

There are essentially four options for policy negotiators to aim for in the upcoming discussions: 1) support disproportionate cuts; 2) support proportionate cuts; 3) protect against cuts; or 4) support increased spending.

These four options can be applied at three different levels:

  1. Overall development spending in budget Heading IV (‘Global Europe’) and outside the budget (European Development Fund);

  2. The financial instruments (Development Cooperation Instrument, Instrument for Stability, etc.);

  3. The different programmes within the instruments.


Thus, possibly the EU Council President Van Rompuy’s proposed cut of 13.3% to Heading IV will be applied to the overall heading, or the 13.3% cut will be divided between the different instruments or even programmes differently. This would mean that some instruments or programmes could be affected more heavily than others. This Briefing Note provides an overview of what is at stake, when development spending under the ‘Global Europe’ Heading is subject to cuts and presents different options to cope with these cuts. It concludes by noting that unless the “Friends of Development” speak up now, these cuts are likely to significantly undermine the ability of the EU to achieve development outcomes.

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European external affairsBriefing Notes (series)

External authors

Laura Mayer