2020 comes to an end and so the process to adopt the adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2021-27 is taken. As of the 10th of November 2020, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament’s negotiators agreed and secured the Parliament’s consent for the next EU’s long-term budget.

A total amount of €1 824.3 billion will make up the package, divided into two main instruments. First, we have the Multiannual Financial Framework (€1 074.3 billion) and the Next Generation EU (€750 billion) which will tackle the consequences of the pandemic and will work as a temporary recovery instrument, covering 2021-2023.

Now, where does that leave funding for development projects, for humanitarian aid? What will happen with Horizon 2020? Where does the Directorates-General of DEVCO and ECHO stand? Before answering those questions, we will briefly explain the management modes of the EU funding, as well as a general overview of it for the next period 2021-27. 

 European Commission’s funding overview

We must bear in mind that the European Union enjoys three types of funding management. The direct management is controlled by the Commission since it is carried out by its departments, in EU delegations, or the headquarters. Then, we have indirect management which are programs carried by international organizations, development agencies, or other bodies. Finally, we have shared management which accounts for around 80% of the EU budget. Each country prepares an agreement for a certain program in which the purpose and how the funds will be used are explained.

On a very general outlook, the European Union has presented a New Cohesion Policy with five main objectives for its investments in the upcoming period:

  • Smarter Europe, through innovation and economic transformation
  • Greener and carbon-free Europe, through the Paris Agreement and renewable energies
  • Connected Europe, betting on digital networks and strategic transportation
  • Social Europe, supporting education, social inclusion, equality, and the European Pillar of Social Rights
  • A Europe closer to citizens, assisting local development initiatives and a sustainable urban development

On a similar basis, they also provide a handbook with 80 simplified measures in Cohesion Policy since they intend to make the new framework more approachable and easily accessible for everyone. Additionally, through the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR), they aim at facilitating synergies between 7 EU funds (CF, EMFF, ERDF, ESF+, AMIF, BMVI, ISF). All these funds will be focused on the previous objectives.

  • The future for Horizon, ECHO, and DEVCO

As any professional in the development sector, one must be wondering what to expect from this newly approved budget and the possibilities it will give in the following years. However, since the budget is not yet implanted it is a bit early to find detailed information.

The European Commission website produced an infographic and some key factsheets that might shed some light into the matter. We will have a look into the breakdown of the EU budget:



As for DEVCO, it is the Directorate General in charge of development aid and cooperation to development, financed through the External Action funds which are the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), as well as by the European Development Fund (EDF). As for ECHO, it will still be in charge of civil protection and humanitarian aid.

From this information, one can suppose that these DGs will be the two main divisions pooling resources from the “Neighbourhood and the world” and the “Resilience, Security and Defence” divisions. As we stated before, given the brief information disposable up to date, a more specific allocation and management of resources is to be determined.

Finally, Horizon Europe. It is the successor of Horizon 2020, the biggest program on innovation and investigation of the European Union. This could be the element that changes the least. Given the success of H2020, the European Commission proposed an updated version of it in June 2018, with at least a €100 billion budget. The three main pillars presented in H2020 will be maintained for this renewed version: Open Science, Open Innovation, and Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness. The resources for Horizon Europe are expected to be under the umbrella of the “Single market, innovation and digital”.

To conclude, it must be taken into account that the consent of the European Parliament was recently given, that is to say, the last steps preceding the implementation are now being taken. By the end of the year or the beginning of 2021, when the plan is to be launched, the European Commission and its different agencies and directorate generals will update websites and factsheets to provide the new information for the starting period. The information presented in this article is what, as of today, can be assumed among the available data and sources.