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Council president favours growth spending in long-term budget

The president of the European Council has presented a proposal for the seven-year EU budget containing smaller reductions in competitiveness spending compared to an earlier proposal.

In a document published on 13 November, Herman van Rompuy suggests that the competitiveness branch (heading 1a) of the next multi-annual financial framework should be reduced by €11.7 billion from the amount proposed by the Commission. This is a smaller cut than the €18 billion reduction proposed previously by the Cyprus presidency on 29 October (see RET 31 Oct 12).

To make up for this reduction, van Rompuy’s draft contains significantly larger reductions in cohesion and agriculture, the two areas that represent the main competitors to heading 1a, which includes Horizon 2020.

Van Rompuy suggests that the cohesion budget should be cut by €29.5 billion from the Commission’s proposal, whilst agriculture should be cut by €25.5 billion. In October, the Cypriot Council presidency suggested cuts of €12.5bn and €11bn for cohesion and agriculture respectively.

The latest draft from van Rompuy reflects the outcome of bilateral discussions held between the president and member states over the last two weeks.

The proposal outlines how much the Council may put forward for three large-scale infrastructure projects to be funded under heading 1a—the Galileo and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) satellite programmes, and the Iter nuclear fusion facility.

Under the proposal, Galileo could be awarded €6.6 billion and GMES would receive €4.9 billion. The Iter nuclear fusion facility would be allocated only €2.7 billion, but the proposal states that this “will need to be offset by a corresponding increase in the bilateral contributions of member states”.

The proposal is expected to be further updated with member state opinions before the European Council meeting, which will discuss the next EU budget and begins on 22 November.