Britain and Europe

Can the EU spend more green?

23 September 2016

Amid severe turbulences and crisis management deficiencies, the EU continues to wield very powerful instruments towards strategic change.

Renaud Thillaye

Beside legislation and policy coordination mechanisms, the EU budget has strong transformative capacity on national and private investment. The ongoing midterm revision of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-20, and the preparation, from 2017 onwards, of the next MFF provide opportunities to improve the relevance and effectiveness of EU spending

This policy brief explores how the EU budget could be reformed in order to improve Europe’s environmental record. Although the transition towards more sustainable societies reflects a basic consensus and is line with EU international commitments and internal roadmaps, this ambition could be better reflected in the EU budget.

The brief argues that reinforcing green conditionality and the contractual approach between the EU and member states is a more plausible way forward than focusing on absolute figures. In particular, the volume of agricultural subsidies may be difficult to change, but climate and biodiversity targets should be more explicitly attached to them. The brief outlines three options into this direction, and weighs their respective political traction in the light of the positioning of member states and EU institutions.