In the dispute over the EU’s future multiannual financial framework (MFF), an agreement is now finally to be reached. This is long overdue, as the current MFF expires at the end of this year. The current President of the European Council, Charles Michel, has now pulled the emergency brake and called an extraordinary summit on 20 February.
In view of a number of points of contention between the Member States, there is no prospect of a rapid agreement. The brexite is creating a billion-euro shortfall on the revenue side. There are therefore massive differences of opinion about the amount of the future EU budget. However, positions also differ widely on the planned use of the money: while the net contributors to the EU want to prevent additional expenditure, the net recipients are blocking cuts in agricultural and structural aid. The challenges on the expenditure side are greater than ever before, above all due to increasing digitisation and high investments for climate protection. The hope for a modern budget without higher spending will hardly be fulfilled.
Without an early agreement, however, the EU risks compromising its political and economic goals. Programmes are unlikely to start on time, which is likely to cause delays, especially in infrastructure projects. Negative economic consequences could soon follow. The structurally weak regions and countries would probably be particularly affected. But in Germany, too, many are certainly interested in a speedy agreement to avoid a further economic risk for Europe.