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19 Sep 2014

Horizon 2020 Council budget proposal unacceptable for EC and EP

On 16 Sept. 2014, the Council proposal for the EU budget for 2015 was presented to the European Parliament. It provides considerable cuts in payments and in commitments compared to the Commission’s original budget proposal. Horizon 2020 is amongst the programmes most affected by the envisaged cuts, despite the Council’s recent pledge to invest in the economies of the future, with a planned reduction of its budget by more than € 1 billion, or 11% of the original budget.

Ministers cut funding for new contracts by €190 million, and despite difficulties already encountered this year in paying bills for existing Horizon 2020 projects, also reduced funding for payments by €981 million in 2015. In a separate debate on Horizon 2020, Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn stated that these payment difficulties affect around 600 collaborative projects with 7,000 participants, of which 1,400 are SMEs. She also pointed out that research and innovation programmes had suffered from recurrent and accumulating lack of payment appropriations already since 2011, saying that “the approach of putting off to the future has reached its limits”. Both the Commission and a number of MEPs expressed their view that the envisaged cuts were disproportionate and unacceptable.

Following the presentation of Council’s position, the Parliament has 42 days to vote on its own stance. Amendments to the Council figures will be voted in Parliament’s Budgets Committee on 29 September and plenary session on 22 October. Parliament’s final vote on a Council/Parliament common position on next year’s budget is scheduled for 26 November 2014 after conciliation.

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