Summer reflection on EU budget and the Sustainable Development Goals

With all post-2020 budget proposals currently on the table, the negotiations phase for the next EU budget, otherwise known as multi annual financial framework (MFF) have officially kicked off last month. From the European Parliament side, most of the rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs for various MFF files have been appointed. From what we know so far, the timeline is ambitious for the future European Social Fund (ESF+) proposal, for which all amendments are scheduled to be finalised before mid-September. While this puts the work of the Parliament on a fast track, the same cannot be said about the European Council. The future budget proposal was meant to be discussed at the General Affairs Council at the end of June, but as migration, security and defence took over the leader’s agenda, discussions on the MFF were relegated to ‘other issues’ which did not leave the time to talk about substance. This is unfortunate, as delays in the negotiation process jeopardise a timely agreement. A late agreement on the future EU budget, and according to rumours this could mean waiting until the German Council presidency in 2020, would also delay the actual programming on Member State level, with negative consequences for beneficiaries due to late disbursement of funds. To advocate for progress on that matter, Social Platform has already sent a letter to EPSCO council ministers, with a request to discuss the future European Social Fund in an appropriate council configuration. The full letter is available here .

Another point of concern remains the absence of a future, sustainability driven European strategy for 2030. In the funding proposals for the future cohesion policy, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are mentioned on the sidelines, but do not translate into an overarching framework to inform investment priorities. Many countries outside the EU, have Agenda2030 and the SDGs as a robust framework to guide national spending. If Mexico, or the Philippines can do it, the EU would certainly have the capacity to follow an ambitious path to sustainable development, guided by the key objective to ensure human well-being within planetary boundaries. But if we can take a critically optimistic approach for the start of the holiday season, perhaps the train has not fully departed. The forthcoming European Commission reflection paper on a sustainable Europe by 2030 to be published before the end of the year, and especially its accompanying SDGs multi-stakeholder platform contribution to which Social Platform actively inputs, could be taken as a guidance for setting post-2020 political priorities. On this blog, we will keep you posted about these developments.