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EU multiannual financial framework (MFF) negotiations

The 2 tracks of the MFF negotiations

The MFF negotiations run from 2011-2013 and involve 3 EU institutions: the European Parliament, the Council, and the European Commission. In the Council, the negotiations are conducted under two parallel tracks:

The political track

The 27 Member States work on the key political elements of the MFF package. This track has three phases:

  1. clarification phase Arrow -dwn
  2. negotiating phase Arrow -dwn
  3. concluding phase Arrow -dwn


Work is conducted on the basis of a "negotiating box" drafted by the presidency. As negotiations progress, work is passed from technical experts to ambassadors, ministers and finally heads of state or government.

Once the European Council reaches agreement on the key political issues, its content feeds into the legislative work.

  • the part of the agreement relating to the MFF Regulation and the rules on own resources is translated into legislative acts. These are adopted by the Council after having obtained the consent or the opinion of the European Parliament, depending of the act;
  • the part of the agreement relating to the financial aspects of the sector-specific acts provides the Council guidance for finalising the legislative work in co-decision with the European Parliament.

Two -tracks

The legislative track

The 27 Member States discuss in the relevant preparatory bodies and Council configurations the technical elements of the sector-specific proposals. Work is undertaken on the basis of the Commission's legislative proposals.

The aim is to align the Member States' positions as far as possible. Care is taken to ensure that this work does not prejudge the outcome of the negotiations under the political track.

During this stage the Council may agree partial general approaches.




The agreement of the European Council marks the launch of legislative work on the MFF Regulation and the rules on own resources. From this moment on the legislative work covers all aspects of the MFF package.


1. The clarification phase 2011

The MFF defines the budgetary priorities of the EU for the years 2014 to 2020.

Objective: to provide a better understanding of the European Commission's proposals and develop Member States' positions.

The European Commission presents its proposals for the MFF package. The proposals consist of 3 main parts:

This phase lasted until around March 2012.

Read more:
The financial framework 2007-2013

2. The negotiating phase 2012

Objective: to narrow the gap between Member States on key issues.

The MFF negotiations are based on the European Commission's MFF proposals. To focus the negotiations, the Presidency of the Council outlines the most central issues and options in a "negotiating box". The content of the box evolves as the negotiations progress. The number of options is progressively reduced and the text reworded. Negotiations are conducted according to the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

The negotiation phase started in March 2012.

Read more:
The work of the Irish rotating presidency
The President of the European Council

3. The concluding phase 2012/2013

Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

Objective: to reach a political agreement on the MFF package in the European Council by early 2013.

A political agreement is reached by unanimity in the European Council on the basis of the "negotiating box".

The agreement covers:

  • annual maximum amounts (ceilings) for EU expenditure as a whole and for broad categories of expenditure (headings);
  • key political elements of the rules on own resources;
  • key political elements, having important financial implications, of the sector-specific proposals.

Read more:
The European Council
MFF ceilings and headings

4. Finalisation of the legislative work

Objective: to adopt the 75 or so legislative acts of the MFF package.

The rules on adoption depend on the legislative act: