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Previously, ACA has reported on the progress of the EU budgetary process from both the annual (EU budget 2011) and multiannual perspectives, i.e. financial framework 2014-2020 (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, November 2010 and July 2011). On 1 December, the European Parliament endorsed the final size and priority spending areas of the 2012 EU budget, following the agreements reached by its negotiating team and the EU member states. The total budget for next year will amount to EUR 129.1 billion (1.86% higher than last year) in payments and EUR 147.2 billion (+3.8% over 2010 figures) in commitments. According to the Financial Programming and Budget Commissioner, Janusz Lewandowski, “it’s clearly an austerity budget as most member states are in the midst of a serious financial crisis”.
One of the big beneficiaries of the budgetary agreement is the 7th Framework Programme: it will receive EUR 92 million more in commitments than was proposed by the Commission in its draft budget, including additional monies for mobility schemes (People sub-programme, +EUR 19.03 million, totalling EUR 905.7 million) and researcher-driven research (Ideas sub-programme, +EUR 17.41 million, totalling nearly EUR 1.6 billion). In addition, the budget commitments under Lifelong Learning have been increased by EUR 52 million to a total of just over EUR 1.1 billion. Finally, an additional EUR 100 million in commitments was agreed to finance the nuclear research programme ITER in 2012.
Meanwhile, there is concern about the real payment capacity of the EU. According to Commissioner Lewandowski, “there is a serious risk that the European Commission will run out of funds in the course of next year, and will therefore not be able to honour all its financial obligations towards beneficiaries of EU funds such as Europe's regions and towns, businesses and scientists”. In view of this circumstance, the Commission, Council and Parliament agreed to take stock in the course of next year to see if the budget is realistic or if amendments are needed.European Commission European Parliament