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EU budget and regional policy

The multiannual financial framework (MFF) is a seven-year spending plan that translates the EU priorities into financial terms. For each annual EU budgetary exercise, it limits expenditure over a fixed period and defines the maximum amounts available for each major category of spending. It also sets up how the budget is financed (so called “own resources”). The current MFF covers the period from 2014 to 2020 and provides a clear picture regarding the spending priorities of the EU. 

EU regional policy absorbs around a third of the EU budget for a total of €315bn over the current period 2014-2020. With companies as a beneficiary of EU structural funds, BusinessEurope is closely involved in development of this policy.

Areas such as research and innovation, trans-European networks, and SMEs and mid-cap companies are key for Europe’s competitiveness. While the amounts devoted to these areas have increased compared to previous budgets, the EU budget still fails to give the necessary clear signal that Europe is focused on the future. The review of the MFF that will take place in 2016 provides an opportunity to redirect some funding and to make a better and smarter use of the EU budget.

Regarding structural funds, focus should be on priority areas with a clear impact on growth and jobs, and be subject to a results-oriented approach, with independent evaluations and effective monitoring. Regional development programmes should be clearly aligned with national reform programmes and contribute to addressing structural weaknesses and meeting Europe 2020 objectives. It is however important that the EU regional cohesion policy maximises its impact on local development and job creation by supporting investment depending solely on the quality and impact of funded investment, irrespective of the size of the company carrying it out. 


Joana Valente

Senior Adviser and strategy coordinator
+32 2 237 65 20
Last updated: 5 July 2016