EU Budget Negotiations: JEF Europe Response

Available in français & Nederlands

Brussels, 21 February 2020

“This has been going on for years now. After every European Council summit we get a parade of national leaders maintaining that the EU is leading the global fight against climate change, solving the issue of youth unemployment, whilst taking decisive action to provide for the security of its citizens. Then come the budget negotiations, and where do those promises go?”, asks Leonie Martin, President of the Young European Federalists (JEF Europe).
Martin, who holds a Dutch passport, continues: “No Member State leader is willing to put their money where their mouth is: rather than net-zero emissions, they seem to be headed for net-zero commitments”.

The European Commission proposal for the EU long-term budget amounts to 78 eurocents of contribution for every EU citizen, per day. In return, we citizens enjoy a wide range of benefits from the European Union: investment in youth mobility, research and education; collective action to reverse the climate emergency; a stronger economy; common management of the Schengen area and the EU borders, to name but a few. All sides seem to want more from the the EU, but instead of offering a distinct view about the future of Europe and pursuing genuine negotiations, they waste time with quarrels, delaying an agreement over a contribution that would amount to just a few more cents per day per citizen but would have a big impact on all of us as European citizens, such as in the case of Erasmus+ funding.

“Thanks to this funding through the Erasmus + programme, we organise a range of activities for thousands of young people across the continent: our signature Europe@School programme for European civic education that has been running for two decades; or our ‘European Youth Together: Road to the Future’ project, which trained hundreds of young people on how to promote the participation of citizens in the EU elections in May. We call on the European Council to support tripling Erasmus+ funding and deliver an agreement on the next budget that is more than just 1% GNI, because this is the kind of projects the programme supports, and that young people in Europe need to grow as active citizens”, notes Milosh Ristovski, Secretary General of JEF Europe.

The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is the long-term ‘rules of the game’ for the yearly EU budget. This is why President Michel’s proposal to weaken the so-called ‘rule of law mechanism’ is so concerning: if we get it wrong now, we are stuck with a bad deal for seven years!
As Young European Federalists, we urge leaders to use this opportunity to at least give some teeth to the Strategic Agenda of the European Council and the Political Guidelines of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Don’t just settle for anything close enough to the status quo!

“There are certainly positive elements to President Michel’s proposal: we very much welcome his ambition on a basket of new own resources to grant the EU more financial autonomy, as well as a focus of Cohesion funding towards transition and less developed regions of Europe and the allocation of ‘fresh money’ to the Just Transition Fund. But we’re still far from what’s needed to finance EU common goods such as climate action and environment protection, defence and security, youth mobility, research and digital innovation. The EU budget could be a powerful tool to chart the way forward for Europe in the next three decades in fields such as Artificial Intelligence and 5G technology. Cuts in the Horizon Europe programme, as they are foreseen by now, would thwart this ambition. But there’s been little strategy, and too much accounting in this discussion”, concludes Ms Martin.


A European Council (EUCO) meeting of Heads of State and Government of all EU Member States is set to begin in Brussels on Thursday, February 20th, to hash out an agreement on the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027: the long-term EU budget. Their basis for discussion is a compromise proposal by EUCO President Charles Michel. President Michel’s proposes that 1,074% EU GNI (slightly above one trillion euros) be allocated for EU level spending, partly financed by own resources – revenue that accrues directly to the EU budget – and a majority of it still financed by national contributions. The MFF provides a framework for financial programming from 2021 to 2027, ensuring that EU spending is predictable and stays within the agreed limits, by establishing maximum annual amounts (ceilings) which the EU may spend in different categories of expenditure (headings).
The non-partisan youth NGO JEF Europe is convinced that many contemporary challenges can only be tackled at European, if not global level. JEF Europe has long been calling for decisive EU and global action against climate change, as well as for a European Security and Defence Union, for a Social Union, for complementing the Economic and Monetary Union with a Fiscal Union and its own budget for macroeconomic stabilisation, and for a humane asylum and migration policy at European level. These political choices, however, have budgetary consequences.

Find our resolution on “A federal budget for the European youth: Reforming the Multiannual Financial Framework” adopted by the European Congress in November 2017 in Malta. 

More information on JEF

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 13.000 members active in more than 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.

JEF Belgium is the section of Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe in Belgium, counting around 150 members with local sections in Brussels, Liège, Louvain-la-Neuve, Leuven and Ghent.

Contact JEF Europe:

Leonie Martin
President, Young European Federalists

Square de Meeûs 25
1000 Brussels

Contact JEF Belgium:

Anna-Lena Sender
President, Young European Federalists in Belgium