Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Designing a value-based EU budget for the future – what role for NGOs?

Source: Concord Flash 48, January 2008

Over 90 participants, mostly NGO representatives, attended the Civil Society Contact Group conference on the EU budget review on 24 January in Brussels. The morning saw a training session attended by some 70 participants. Warren Krafchik, Director of the International Budget Project, an NGO that "works to enhance the effective participation of civil society organisations in public budgeting in developing and transition countries" made the case for citizens' involvement by outlining the value that civil society organisations can add to budget negotiations; the types of budget work; possible changes in budgets; the challenges for advocacy, and some successful strategies.

Jan Seifert, assistant to Helga Trüpel, Green MEP and member of the budget committee, explained how the EU budget currently functions and what the issues at stake in the review are. He explained the annual budget, the seven-year financial framework and the EU's own resources and gave examples of successful lobbying.

More political discussions took place during the afternoon session. European Commission representative Vasco Cal (a member of the cabinet of Commissioner Grybauskaité, responsible for the EU budget review) urged the participants to use the opportunity to submit to the Commission their own ideas on the future priorities of the EU. He underlined that this stage was not about amounts but about the headings in the budget. It was crucial to link such a vision to the values as set out in the Lisbon treaty, insisted Roshan Di Puppo, director of the Social Platform. Finding the synergies between sectoral interests of NGOs, and at the same time focusing on what the EU can do that member states can not do on their own, is the challenge NGOs are confronted with.

As part of this review, on 12 September 2007 the European Commission published a communication that launched a public consultation on the EU budget. The communication is intended to serve as basis for the debate about future EU priorities and the management of the budget and resources. After the consultation, ending on 15 April 2008, the Commission will prepare a proposal for a reform of the EU budget. The Commission is currently expected to publish its proposal during the French presidency in the second half of 2008.

CONCORD members have participated in the EU budget review conference and will meet early in February to discuss a CONCORD response to the Commission’s consultation. This input will no doubt combine the CONCORD input that we gave for the Financial Regulation review in 2007 with the brand-new CONCORD vision and documents from several CONCORD working groups.

More info: 2008 EU budget and briefing on consultation.


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