Ahead of the Informal Leaders' meeting on 23 February 2018, the European Commission is today setting out various options – and their financial consequences – for a new and modern, long-term EU budget that delivers efficiently on its priorities after 2020. At their meeting on 23 February, the European Union's Leaders will discuss

about how to ensure that the priorities they have set for the Union - on 16 September 2016 in Bratislava and on 25 March 2017 in the Rome Declaration - can be adequately funded and thus turned into reality. Both elements – defining common priorities and equipping the Union to implement them – are inseparable.

The Commission is contributing to this important discussion in three ways: First, by providing the necessary facts about the EU budget, its benefits, achievements and added value. Second, by drawing up scenarios which illustrate the financial impact of various possible policy choices. And third, by showing the consequences for students, researchers, infrastructure projects and many others in case the adoption of the new EU budget were to be delayed.

Options for the future EU budget.  When discussing about the level of ambition of EU action in areas like protecting the EU's external borders, supporting a true European Defence Union, boosting Europe's digital transformation or making the EU's cohesion and agricultural policies more efficient, it is important for the Leaders to ascertain what their choices would mean concretely in terms of funding at EU level. Today's contribution from the Commission seeks to do exactly that - by quantifying the financial impact of various possible policy choices. Those are not the Commission's own proposals, but illustrationsbased on ideas frequently put forward in the public debate. Their purpose is to focus minds, to stimulate discussion and to provide a sound factual basis for making the important choices that lie ahead.

For example, if Leaders agree to honor the frequently made pledge to improve the protection of the EU's external borders, this would cost €20 to 25 bn over seven years, and up to €150 billion for a full EU border management system. Indeed, each political priority - the European Defence Union, supporting the mobility of young people, powering Europe's digital transformation, boosting research and innovation or underpinning a genuine Economic and Monetary Union – will need to be properly funded to become a reality.

Modernising and financing the EU budget.  The Commission is also setting out options to modernise the EU budget, including by making the link between the goals of the EU budget and the way it is funded stronger. Moreover, it sets out possibilities for strengthening the link – often referred to as "conditionality" - between EU funding and the respect for the EU's fundamental values.


Timing matters – for citizens and businesses.  A swift political agreement on a new, modern EU budget will be essential to demonstrate that the Union is ready to deliver on the positive political agenda outlined in Bratislava and Rome. Beyond being politically desirable, an early agreement is also a practical imperative. Partners and beneficiaries of EU funding – from students and researchers to infrastructure, health care or energy projects - as well as national and regional authorities deserve and need legal and financial certainty. The Commission draws the Leaders' attention to concrete examples of the detrimental impact which a delay would have on citizens and businesses all across the EU. The Commission believes that the unfortunate experience with the late adoption of the current EU budget – with significant delays in the launch of the new programmes and, consequently, in achieving the funding priorities – should not be repeated.