The process of making budgets in the European Union involves the ‘high politics’ of European Summits, an annual budgetary cycle which includes tough battles between the two arms of the Budgetary Authority and thousands of decisions on individual budgetary lines. Those involved in moulding the annual budget form an important subsystem in the EU’s decision-making system which is characterised by small groups of budgetary cognoscenti in all institutions. The technical nature of the budget and the complexity of the rules governing its formation tend to favour specialists those involved in the budgetary cycle year in year in and year out, who have developed an ‘insider’ knowledge of the budgetary acquis. The cognoscenti work, however, within the political and financial boundaries established by the big budgetary bargains which evolve from negotiations in the General Affairs Council, ECOFIN, and the European Council.
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