The European budget is a vital element of the European construction, as shown by Jacques Delors’s action as president of the European Commission. The budget has played a major role in supporting each of the important steps in European economic integration, and it determines the level of ambition of the EU’s planned policies. And yet budget negotiations are increasingly difficult, leading to a budget smaller in size and importance which no longer matches the challenges and ambitions of European integration.
By means of its analyses and declared positions on the European budget, Notre Europe-Jacques Delors Institute pursues a two-fold objective: to help change the terms of the budget negotiation in persuading decision-makers to define budget priorities on the basis of the Union’s needs and interests rather than solely in terms of national interest; and to participate actively in the debate over reform of the structure, composition and functioning of the European budget.
The Jacques Delors Institute is committed to encouraging discussion about budget reform in holistic terms – that is, not limited to “spending” alone, but including “receipts” and the decision-making procedure. Notre Europe-Jacques Delors Institute has become known for its in-depth analyses and for the stands it has taken in favour of reform of the own-resources system. Other than publishing studies and policy papers analysing the background and options for a reform of the EU’s financing, in November 2010 the Jacques Delors Institute’s steering committee advocated a new resource for the EU budget. It continues to examine the conditions for possible recourse to non-budget resources such as EIB loans or “project bonds”.
The Jacques Delors Institute also argues that budget negotiations should not be reduced to their financial aspects. It works to make debate on the issue more constructive and better informed about ways to improve European spending, in particular by means of sectoral publications in areas of its expertise such as the CAP and cohesion policy. It makes a defence for the political character of budget decisions and the importance of involving the European Parliament closely in budget negotiations.
Finally, with the aim of improving the effectiveness of European spending, the Jacques Delors Institute launched a series of publications in 2011 entitled “How to spend better together”. The objective is to promote a holistic vision of national and EU spending, and to assess the possibilities of making Europe’s public spending more effective via “Europeanisation” or a better coordination of European and national spending. This series contains both transversal research and sectoral analysis focused on particular policy areas.