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EU budget: Putting children’s wellbeing first

The EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – its budget from 2014 to 2020 – took an important step towards completion this week.

Putting children’s wellbeing first

When I last blogged about the MFF, I outlined how the debate was moving away from the MFF’s total amount towards discussion of which spending would be given the highest priority.

Save the Children in Brussels has been working to ensure that this breakdown of the MFF serves the wellbeing of children, both in terms of the priorities for children in the EU, as well as those dedicated to development aid and humanitarian assistance.

For example, Save the Children is assisting Concord, The European NGO confederation for relief and development, to ensure that the breakdown of the expenditures for “Global Europe” targets instruments destined to serve those in greatest need.

A need for flexibility

This change in theme for the MFF debate was due to the European Parliament accepting the total amount of the MFF agreed by EU leaders at their summit in February. The difference the European Parliament had in its resolution with EU leaders was whether the MFF would have enough flexibility to respond to changing situations, the details of a mid-term review, and whether it would be a balanced budget with the EU developing its “own resources” to cover any deficit.

The EU Council of Ministers have now met and reviewed the negotiations with an exchange of views between Member States in public. These negotiations are being led for them by the Irish EU presidency and the meeting gave the Irish the green light to rapidly conclude these negotiations.

In the Treaty, the European parliament has an equal voice to that of the EU leaders in the European Council in deciding the MFF. However, it is obvious from the tenor of many of the interventions in the Council meeting that many of the EU Ministers do not view the European Parliament as an equal to their leaders.

The European Parliament had wished to link the MFF negotiations with debates over the current year’s EU budget. In order to take the negotiations forward speedily the Council agreed, albeit grudgingly, to link the two dossiers and conclude them in parallel.

Agreement in sight

The Irish Deputy Prime Minister, Eamon Gilmore, summed up the position of the Irish presidency on the negotiations at the press conference following the Council meeting:

“Having heard the Parliaments concerns and listened very carefully to the views of the Member States this morning I am convinced that we can, with sufficient goodwill on all sides, find the compromises necessary to reach a satisfactory agreement on the MFF.”

The Irish presidency is now in a position to conclude the MFF during its presidency, as the Commission press release notes “Everything is now on the table to conclude the negotiations”.

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