EUA sees EFSI agreement as "mixed bag" for universities and research
The European University Association (EUA) has commented on the agreement reached in the trilogue between the Council and the European Parliament regarding the budget cuts to Horizon 2020 in favour of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) on 29 May 2015.
The European Commission proposal had originally foreseen a €2.7 billion cut to Horizon 2020. The agreement between the Council and Parliament has reduced these cuts to €2.2 billion. The difference will be financed from unused margins in the EU’s annual budgets of 2014 and 2015.
EUA sees these cuts to the Horizon budget, even though they have now been reduced, as disadvantageous for universities since it considers it to be unlikely that universities will benefit directly from EFSI: In most European countries, universities are unable to make use of a financial tool offering loans rather than grants. EUA says it is "particularly concerned by the signal that this development sends to public authorities in Europe with regard to the importance of funding university research".
However, EUA welcomes the decision not to make cuts to the European Research Council, Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions as well as pillar 4 “Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation” and acknowledges the efforts made by the European Parliament to make this decision part of the agreement. EUA now "calls on EU Member States to live up to their commitment to limit the impact of these cuts as far as possible during each annual budgetary procedure", in order to mitigate the wrong signal sent to Europe’s research community.
The compromise agreement on EFSI will be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers on 19 June 2015 and will be voted on in the European Parliament plenary on 24 June 2015.
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