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Negotiations on the budget of Horizon Europe: EUR 84 billion proposed budget

After months of expectation, the soon outgoing Finnish Presidency of the European Council proposed the “financial envelope” for the EU budget 2021 – 2027, including a financial proposal for the Horizon Europe programme. After initial worries that the Commission’s proposal of EUR 86.6 billion for Horizon Europe could face a cut of 12 billion, this first official proposal from the Council puts forward a budget of EUR 84 billion for the programme. This is partly reassuring, although given the momentum and political will to support European research, every decrease is seen as disappointing among the research and professional community. As things stand at the moment, Horizon Europe could face a cut of EUR 2.6 billion. While these figures are not final, they do mark the direction of final negotiations in 2020, which are likely to continue to be tough given that member states are quite divided at present over their priorities.

The ultimate budget of Horizon Europe, like that of other programmes like Erasmus, directly depends on the overall negotiations of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027, EU’s budget which will give heading to all subsequent programmes. Jean-Eric Paquet, the European Commission’s director general for research and innovation, spoke in front of the ITRE committee in the European Parliament. He pointed up that detailed plans for Horizon Europe could be slowed down if negotiations over the next MFF are not finalised early next year. The member states are currently in a deadlock over the size of the budget and spending in agriculture, cohesion, climate and research, where the latter tends to be the easiest to cut down.

The budget proposal makes no financial specifications on the Erasmus programme, which belongs to budget Heading 2 – Cohesion and values, and for which the European Commission had initially proposed a doubling of the current budget, while the new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and previously the European Parliament have asked for a tripling.

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