The EU's financial perspective is a seven-year framework for EU spending. It sets a ceiling on the amount the EU can spend in each of its policy areas, in any of these years.
The idea was introduced in the late 1980s, in order to end regular rows over the annual budget for the following year.
The EU still has to agree an annual budget, which fixes precise levels of spending, but it helps to have broad parameters settled in advance.
The perspective is adopted by a unanimous decision of EU heads of state and government, on the basis of a proposal from the European Commission. It then needs the approval of the European Parliament.