In an important new step towards a final decision on the European Union’s financial framework for 2021-2027, the Finnish presidency of the EU Council released its proposal for the bloc’s future budget. Referred to as a “negotiating box”, the proposal includes figures for the overall budget as well as per programme and is intended as a new basis for discussion among heads of government this week in Brussels.
The new figures are best compared with the initial proposal of the European Commission (issued in May 2018) and the position of the European Parliament (issued in November 2018). The proposal of the Finnish presidency makes the overall 7-year budget smaller than envisaged by the European Commission, at 1.07% of EU-27 GNI, compared to 1.11% proposed by the latter. This means that the proposal reconsiders both priorities and balances between programmes.
For Horizon Europe, this translates into a smaller increase than what the Commission proposed: €84.013 billion compared to €86.596 billion (2018 prices). Nevertheless, the document does not detail whether this figure includes funds earmarked for the new InvestEU fund (over €3 billion in the Commission proposal), nor does it specify anything about the Euratom programme, which is associated to Horizon Europe under the “Research and Innovation” section of the budget. Therefore, it is difficult to fully compare the new figures to the initial Commission proposal.
Both the Commission and the Parliament, together with research and innovation stakeholders, have fought against cuts to Horizon Europe in the final phase of the budget negotiations. The Finnish “negotiating box” features amounts that are relatively close to the Commission proposal, showing that the mobilisation of the sector has been effective.
Nevertheless, the proposed level of funding is far below what is truly necessary for the future programme to support the ambitious goals of the EU, in particular in helping the bloc to “act first and fastest” to “grasp the opportunities from the ecological transition”, in the words of the new Commission President von der Leyen.
EUA and its partner university associations support the European Parliament’s position that €120 billion is a minimum amount to boost the public and private R&I investment in Europe and demonstrate that Europe’s leadership can rise to the challenges ahead.