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Battle for the EU 2014-2020 budget finally over?

On 27 June, the Irish Presidency and officials from the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission finally reached a political agreement on the EU’s long-term budget for the next seven years (2014-2020). After several failed attempts for a compromise, the newly-reached agreement puts an end to the difficult and long-drawn negotiations going on since February. The European Council decided on 8 February to cut the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) from its previous level (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, February 2013), which led to the Parliament rejecting the deal in March (see ACA Newsletter, March 2013). The resulting negotiations didn’t so much focus on numbers than on giving the budget more flexibility, allowing money to be swiftly reallocated where needed in times of changing economic realities. Even though the new agreement does not reflect all the priorities defended by the Parliament these past months, the president of the EP, Martin Schulz, agrees it is better than nothing. The deal includes more flexibility on payments and commitments and guaranties that the funds for the next seven years will be entirely spent, which was not the case in the previous budget, where some EUR 50 billion were reimbursed to member states. The package also includes a binding revision clause, allowing it to review the spending midway through the budget. Furthermore, an agreement was reached on early payments for youth employment, research, education (namely Erasmus) and SMEs. It was also agreed that in the future the EU’s long-term budgets would span over five years, rather than seven. The MFF, which foresees a EUR 960 billion investment in growth and jobs over the next seven years, now has to win a majority vote during the next Parliament’s plenary session, taking place from 1-4 July in Strasbourg. The final budget will take effect as of 1 January 2014.