Today, the European Parliament (EP) has adopted in plenary its position on the EU budget for 2017. LERU is pleased to see that the EP sticks to its commitment to research and growth by suggesting to endow the EU with the appropriate funds to realise them. LERU particularly welcomes the EP´s confirmation of allocations for research contained in the EC´s initial proposal and its further increase, the reversal of all cuts suggested by the Finance Ministers (ECOFIN), and the full compensation of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI)-related cuts in Horizon 2020. Sadly, there is also a sense of “déja vu” in the EU annual budgetary procedure with regard to research… an acceptable proposal by the European Commission, followed by offensive cuts by the Council (ECOFIN) and a European Parliament that finally comes to the rescue of the EU budget for research. During the conciliation period that is now starting, LERU would like to see the EP´s position prevail over the Council´s blind national interests and unjustified cuts.
The EP´s position on the EU budget and the MFF
LERU welcomes the EP´s continuous support for research during the budgetary procedures and deeply regrets the tiresome attitude of the Council to introduce cuts to research. In particular, LERU very much supports the EP´s reversal of the Council´s cuts, the increase of certain allocations compared to the EC´s proposal and the offsetting of the EFSI-related cuts.
1. Reversal of all cuts suggested by the Council
LERU very much supports the EP in noting that “that subheading 1a [Competitiveness for Growth and Jobs] is once again severely affected by the Council’s reading with 52% of the overall Council cuts in commitments falling within this heading” and questioning therefore “how the Council’s political priority on jobs and growth is reflected in this reading”. LERU applauds the EP, which “strongly disagrees with these cuts in a heading that symbolises the European added value and delivers more growth and jobs for citizens; [and] consequently decides to restore all cuts made by the Council”.
2. Increase of certain allocations with regard to the EC´s initial proposal
The text adopted by the EP plenary today increases commitments to €161.8 billion and payments to €136.8 billion. In particular, LERU welcomes the EP´s proposal to increase the highly successful but underfunded Marie Curie, European Research Council and Erasmus+ programmes above the level of the Draft Budget proposed by the EC.
3. Compensation in full of EFSI-related cuts
After all its efforts to mitigate the EFSI-related cuts on research, LERU is pleased to see that the EP is delivering on its commitment to minimise the budgetary impact of EFSI on Horizon 2020 by deciding “to fully restore the original pre-EFSI profile of the Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) [for a total of €1.24 billion in commitments for 2017 via new appropriations to be obtained through the mid-term revision of the Multi-Financial Framework 2014-2020 –MFF-] lines that were cut for the provisioning of the EFSI Guarantee Fund”. LERU joins the EP in expecting that an overall agreement on this pressing matter is reached in the framework of the mid-term revision of the MFF.
LERU also welcomes the EP´s resolution adopted today in plenary on the mid-term revision of the MFF, in particular, the call for the modifications to be implemented without delay and integrated already in the EU budget 2017, and the proposal for a new binding payment plan for 2016-2020 to be agreed between the three institutions to avoid the previous backlog of payments. LERU also very much welcomes the EC´s proposal for the MFF revisionwith regard to the top-ups for Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ (€400 million each). These are increases that demonstrably reflect Commissioner Georgieva´s commitment to have an “EU budget focused on results” and Commissioner Moedas´ determined support for this increase. The €400 million for H2020 is to be distributed equally among the following four budgetary lines: ERC, Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation, the European Open Science Cloud and the European Innovation Council).
As stated by Prof. Deketelaere, Secretary-General of LERU, “it is infuriating to see the Council´s position in the budgetary procedure -year after year- with regard to research.Fortunately, we have a persistent European Parliament that acknowledges the importance of matching words with deeds and which fights for appropriate and justified research funding levels.”