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Since the decision by the European Parliament in January to reject the budget compromise, agreed by heads of state back in December, there has been little deliberation by the Council to rethink its decision. The second “trialogue” between the European Parliament, the European Council, and the European Commission was held on Tuesday 21 February. No real progress towards an agreement was yet made, but the next weeks will witness intensified contacts between the institutions, and formal negotiations will continue in the next tri-lateral meeting on 21st March.
One of the main demands of the Parliament is to allocate more resources for competitiveness related items, including research and lifelong learning: both the Parliament and the Commission had proposed doubling of funding for these items, while the Council wants to limit the increase to only 66 percent: in the current proposal a total of only €72 billion, instead of the €132 billion originally planned has been attributed to the 7th Framework Programme for research and Education and Training programmes. Thus, as the budget stands, it is most likely that despite wide opposition by the education and research communities, the FP7 will still experience cuts in its budget and the Socrates programme is unlikely to see promised increases for its next phase.