The Lisbon Treaty opened a new era, with new opportunities for citizens and their representative organisations to take part in EU policy- and decision-making, thus reinforcing the democratic legitimacy of European institutions and their work. However, against the background of the Brexit negotiations, as well as the recent geo-political, security, economic and social challenges that the EU is facing, a new reflection process has been launched for the EU-27 to decide on the future of their Union.
The European Union has a budget to pay for policies carried out at European level. This budget amounts to about 1% of the EU-28's gross national income (GNI), or EUR 157.9 billion (2017). Approximately 94% of the EU budget funds programmes and projects both within Member States and outside the EU. Approximately 6% of the budget is used for administrative costs. The money essentially comes from national contributions calculated on the basis of GNI and VAT and from traditional own resources (customs duties on imports from outside the EU). The main categories of expenditure are growth (enhancing competitiveness for growth and jobs and economic, social and territorial cohesion), natural resources (agriculture and fisheries), security and citizenship, foreign policy and administration.
The EESC on institutional affairs and EU budget
The EESC has actively influenced changes in the EU treaties and helped reform the institutions. It will continue doing so through its opinions representing civil society's views within the political dialogue on the future of Europe and its institutions.
The EESC advocates that the EU budget is employed to relaunch economic growth and employment, give a boost to innovation and competitiveness and respond to internal and external challenges. Furthermore, there has to be a stronger focus on the results achieved with the EU budget. The introduction of a new system to finance the EU budget that is more strongly based on own resources should help abandon the debate on net balances for each Member State which is contrary to the values of solidarity and mutual benefit that underpin European integration. Simplification of procedures in the use of the budget is crucial, as well as more flexibility to react to urgent challenges.