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On 19 October, the European Parliament voted on its position on the 2023 EU budget. MEPs reversed almost all cuts made by the Council (over EUR 1.6 billion) thereby restoring the draft budget to the level originally proposed by the European Commission across a number of budget lines (for more details, see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, July 2023).
When it comes to the (higher) education and research budget, MEPs asked to increase funding for Erasmus+, the European Solidarity Corps, and Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) under Horizon Europe, particularly to provide support for young Ukrainians and Ukrainian academics. The Erasmus+ budget is increased by EUR 200 million, with the additional funds primarily targeting learning mobility of individuals and groups, and cooperation, inclusion and equity, excellence, creativity and innovation at the level of organisations and policies in the field of education and training (indirect management).
The Horizon Europe programme also gets a significant boost to increase EU energy independence and to back the green transition and biodiversity goals. MEPs’ other funding priorities that are relevant for the (higher) education sector include topics covered under the Digital Europe (cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, high performance computing and skills) (+EUR 251.2 million) and Creative Europe (+EUR 12 million) to support the cultural sector in the post-pandemic context.
Given the divergent positions of the two institutions on the budget, the EP vote launches three weeks of “conciliation” talks with the Council, with the aim of reaching a deal for next year’s budget, which then has to be voted on by Parliament and signed by its President.
The Parliament’s voting comes shortly after the publication of the Commission’s 2023 work programme. This document outlines the next steps in the transformative agenda in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, rising energy prices and the knock-on effects on the economy, while striving to protect Europe’s democratic values and steering further towards a sustainable recovery. In the field of education specifically, the Commission will propose to update the current EU learning mobility framework to enable learners to move more easily between education systems, a step towards the achievement of the European Education Area for 2025. ACA members and the Secretariat will be backing this process with their long-standing expertise in the field.