The next MFF, which is now under discussion, will define the EU's long-term spending priorities
The annual budget of the European Union amounts to almost €142 billion (2011 figures) – a large sum of money in absolute terms, but only 1% of the wealth generated by the EU's member countries every year.
Most of that money is spent on improving the life of the EU's citizens and communities – with a large part channelled to less well-off regions and groups in society, and into generating jobs and growth across the EU.
Deciding how much the EU will spend – and what on – is a democratic process. Every year:
Some of the main uses are:
As a major global player, the EU has certain obligations to the outside world: promoting economic and social development, keeping the peace and helping victims of disasters and conflict.
It is particularly active in 3 groups of countries:
How is the EU budget spent? (2011 figures)
Generally, the EU is responsible for spending money only where it makes sense for member countries to pool resources. Scientific research programmes, vital for keeping Europe globally competitive, are a good example of this.
EU research funding promotes integrated research projects involving scientists working in different EU countries. This approach shares the fruits of national research EU-wide, as well as creating economies of scale and effort.
The fields that benefit are manifold, including biotechnology, information technologies, nanotechnology and space research.
The costs of running the EU (administration) amount to 6% of total spending. This includes running costs for all the institutions (mainly the European Commission, Parliament and EU Council) and the translators and interpreters who make information available in all of the EU’s official languages.