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Commission proposes €280m cut to Framework 7 in 2013

The European Commission has proposed cuts of about €280 million for the 2013 Framework 7 budget.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels on 25 April, budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said that the EU wanted to protect research funding. Overall, the proposed budget for FP7 is about 6 per cent up from last year but savings could be made on administrative costs and research programmes that are not performing well.

These so-called “performance savings” would total €351m, while €71 would be kept to fund other parts of Framework 7, amounting to a €280m cut overall.

In particular, the Commission has proposed cutting funding for two EU public-private partnerships for information technology research, the Joint Technology Initiatives Artemis and Eniac. A Commission official told Research Europe Today that national governments had not honoured their financial commitments to these programmes, so the EU will reduce its contribution.

From the €140m saved on these programmes, around €80m will be used to fund cost over-runs at the Iter nuclear fusion project, and the remaining €60m will be moved to other funding programmes for IT research, the official said.

This follows an internal dispute with digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes, who sought to protect the ICT research budget from the Iter savings plan (see RET 17 Apr 12). The rest of the money needed to plug Iter’s €360-m funding gap in 2013 will come from small savings in several other budget lines.

In addition, the Commission has suggested cutting €35.8m from the research administrative budgets, including a €17.7m cut to the budgets of the Research Executive Agency and the European Research Council’s Executive Agency.

Overall, the Commission has proposed a 2-per-cent increase on its financial commitments, and a 6.8-per cent increase in payments for projects that have already started. The Commission says this increase is absolutely necessary to pay unpaid bills that have piled up at the end of the EU’s seven-year budget cycle.

The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers now have to agree on the budget. The Parliament is likely to request more money, while the more powerful member states are likely to ask for cuts.