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The month of November brought fierce budgetary negotiations at the European level between the EU institutions, but without much progress. The talks referred, on the one hand, to the proposed EU budget for the year 2013, and coupled with that a request from the European Commission to amend the 2012 budget (the so-called “amending budget 6” proposal), and on the other hand, the budgetary negotiators for the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020.
Last month, negotiations over the 2013 budget between the European Parliament (EP) and the EU member states grouped in the Council reached a dead end, following stark disagreement between the two EU institutions (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, October 2012). As previously reported, a conciliation procedure was subsequently started, meant to bring the two EU institutions to reach a solution. Nevertheless, the conciliation procedure collapsed on 14 November, when MEPs decided to unilaterally suspend negotiations because the Council refused to accept the amendment request proposed by the European Commission for the 2012 budget (worth EUR 8.9 billion), which was clearly backed by the EP. Consequently, the European Commission was asked to present a new Draft Budget for the year 2013 facilitating convergence between the positions of the two other EU institutions, which it did, on 26 November. In financial terms, the differences between the “old” and the “new” Draft 2013 budget are marginal. The new Draft Budget, as well as the (unmodified) Commission’s proposal for amending the 2012 budget are now again on the table of the EP and the Council, who must again search for an agreement.
On 22-23 November European leaders convened in Brussels for an extraordinary summit to discuss (and agree on) the EU budget for the next 7-year financial framework (the period 2014-2020), following a call from the Cypriot chair of the Council to “go below the Commission’s proposal” (worth EUR 1 033 billion, i.e. approx. 1% of European GNI). The summit ended without a common solution being reached. Fearing stark budgetary reductions compared to the Commission’s proposals for the Erasmus for All and Horizon 2020 programmes, the higher education and the research communities mobilised themselves and launched strong calls for caution. Close to 150 000 scientists and researchers from around the world as well as 44 Nobel Prize laureates signed by the end of November an online petition – A top priority for Europe: secure the EU research and innovation budget! – asking the EU leaders to safeguard investment in research, which is crucial particularly in times of crisis. In parallel, more than 100 personalities from all EU member states urged EU leaders through and open letter to back up Erasmus.