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Testing times: EU budgeting procedures under pressure (abstract only)

Paper presented at the 2nd International WIPCAD Conference, Potsdam, December 2014

Klaus H. Goetz and Ronny Patz

This paper examines the changing temporality of the EU budgetary processes and its implications for the European Commission. Budgeting in the EU has traditionally operated on the basis of differentiated time horizons and has been governed by differentiated time rules. At its heart have been the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), covering a seven-year period, on the one hand, and the annual budgetary procedure, on the other. Differentiation in time horizons has meant that the “high politics” of budgeting were compressed in time, allowing for routinization in the annual procedure. The latter’s sophisticated timetables could largely be managed at the administrative level of the Commission, following primarily a pattern of negative co-ordination. However, the previously distinct time horizons of the MFF and the annual procedure and the separate rules by which they were governed have become increasingly entangled. The MFF as a longer-term commitment device is being challenged, whilst the annual procedure is pressured between accumulated commitments of the past, which present themselves in the form of unfunded payments, and an emphasis on limiting future payments as much as possible. Under these conditions, administrative substantive co-ordination and timetable management are increasingly complemented by politicization, centralization and presidentialization, as the need for positive coordination increases.