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Horizon 2020 loses ground in ongoing budget talks

European heads of state are struggling to reach an agreement on the EU budget from 2014 to 2020, as discussions at a special summit in Brussels continue this afternoon (23 November).

But despite no overall agreement, the proposed allocation for competitiveness programmes including Horizon 2020 has been cut further as member states push to protect cohesion and agriculture.

Late on Thursday night (22 November), the president of the EU Council Herman van Rompuy presented a revised proposal for member states to consider. This includes €13 billion of additional cuts for competitiveness programmes (subheading 1a), compared to his previous proposal of 13 November (see RET 16 Nov 12). This means the allocation for 1a now stands at €24.7 bn less than the Commission’s original proposal.

According to the incomplete figures included in the latest proposal, this places the budget for Horizon 2020 at €70.8 bn — if other types of competitiveness spending are reduced at the same rate. That would compare with the Horizon 2020 budget of €80 bn proposed by the Commission last year.

In the latest figures, the president also targeted additional reductions from his previous proposal of €5 billion for the Connecting Europe Facility, €350 million for the Galileo satellite system and €1150 million for Global Monitoring for Environment and Security.

Van Rompuy presented the revised proposal for consideration by the heads of state around 11pm on Thursday, after more than 13 hours of bilateral talks between the president and individual member states.

The cuts to growth programmes were made to reallocate money towards cohesion and agriculture, a move that appears to have been supported by a large number of member states. In the revised figures, cohesion is awarded an additional €10.6 billion compared to van Rompuy’s previous proposal, with agriculture receiving an additional €8 billion.

The total level of the proposal for the entire EU budget remains the same as the previous version—around €80 billion less than the Commission’s 2011 proposal. Whilst several member states support the maintenance of overall spending, countries including the UK, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands are insisting this total must be reduced further, before an agreement can be reached.

At midday on Friday, discussions at the summit looked set to continue into the weekend. If no agreement can be found, the Council is expected to reconvene in early 2013 to resume negotiations.