We argue that while there had been a 'window of opportunity' (stemming from internal reform pressure in the member states; the requirement for an EU budget review) for a major change in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, several factors had played against such a change. First, due to the crisis EU member states moved from 'normal' to 'crisis' politics, impacting on the EU's institutional balance and the entrepreneurial capabilities of the Commission to enforce the EU's long-term growth strategy. Second, classical change-resisting factors of EU budget negotiations have been reinforced due to austerity policies. Third, the more powerful role of the European Council following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the new cleavage between members and non-members of the Eurogroup reduced the chances for reforming the EU budget further. Analyzing these factors will enable us to review concepts of institutional change in the EU and assess their explanatory power in light of the recent dynamics in European integration.
In view of the MFF mid-term revision, we conclude that a reconciliation of contradictions (at vertical and horizontal levels) is highly demanding, making a breakthrough towards a more future-oriented growth policy, including a stronger position for research and innovation policies, rather unlikely.