‘Who gets what, when and how?’ (Lasswell 1936) has always been a key question of policy making, and European Union (EU) politics is certainly not (and has never been) an exemption. Budgetary negotiations have pitted member states against each other and facilitated coalitions of rich vs poor, Northern vs Southern, Eastern vs Western countries. The making of European budgets is also closely linked to the political programmes of the EU; it therefore sets supporters of leaner and larger budgets against each other and affects the allocation of scarce budget means to policy fields favoured by the ‘left’ or by the ‘right’. In short, budgets may act as a proxy and even define what the EU is, what European Union politics can do, and what European integration is all about.
Against this background, our planned research project aims to shed new light on the budgetary preferences of key actors in the Council and the EP. Research on the question of ‘Who gets what, when and how?’ in budgetary issues of the EU is generally rare. Moreover, current research often neglects the important role of the MFF in structuring and limiting the yearly budgets as well as the EPs proposal and veto possibilities. We will investigate the influence of these factors and explore the contextual determinants which structure the preferences of national representatives in the Council and of legislators in the EP. Additionally, our project seeks to identify which institutions, which national governments and which parliamentary groups were forced to compromise and which prevailed in the budget negotiations. Finally, we will link actor preferences with substantive outcomes concerning the size of the overall budget and the allocation of specific budgetary means and portfolios.