Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources said: The implementation of the EU budget is very high. I expect that there will be very little, if any, unused money at the end of this year, which would be finally redistributed to Member States. This means that almost every euro planned and committed in the EU budget will be spent to the benefit of our citizens, researchers, farmers, companies.
As regards the 270 billion euros mentioned by the ECA President, I assume he is referring to the so-called RAL reste à liquider - the outstanding commitments taken in the EU budget that have not turned into payments yet. This phenomenon is usually linked to the life-cycle of the projects. This is why the vast amount of RAL is cohesion money. Similar to situations in private life or in business, the European Commission pays according to the progress of implementation. Under the current EU budget rules e.g. for cohesion policy, Member States have up to three years to absorb the money - counting from the moment we commit the money in the EU Budget and the moment they finally ask for transferring it to their accounts. In the meantime, this amount is booked under RAL. We cannot talk about unused money going back to Member States.
In the recent years, the Commission has put enormous efforts into helping all Member States, in a tailored way, improve their absorption of EU funds and will continue doing it in the future. Learning from the past experience, we proposed also a number of measures for the new long-term EU budget (Multiannual Financial Framework - MFF) in that respect e.g. by simplifying the procedures, allowing for roll-over of existing implementation systems or changing the existing "n+3" rule to "n+2", as we realised that it can contribute to a certain delay in absorbing the money.
It is also for this reason that we call for a swift agreement on the next MFF. From the point of view of implementation, a timely adoption of the new MFF proposal is decisive. If adoption comes very late, as it was the case for the current MFF, then beneficiaries may not be able to engage in EU funded projects and get the money from 2021 onwards, but up to 1-2 years later. While announcing our proposals for the next generation of all EU programmes only few weeks after the MFF proposal, with the unprecedented transparency and speed of the technical work provided by the Commission, we created the ideal circumstances to avoid delays in the future.