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‘No progress’ on EU budget

European Commission president raises prospect of two-year delay to start of Horizon Europe

Leaders of EU member states achieved “nothing” in their talks on the bloc’s 2021-27 budget at a meeting of the European Council on 18 October, the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said afterwards.

“It was in fact a stock-taking meeting because everyone was repeating positions we already knew, so there is no new element, no guidance, nothing,” Juncker said in a press conference.

Juncker said leaders must reach a decision quickly in 2020, so that there is no delay to programmes for R&D, student mobility and other activities. He raised the prospect of major delays to the start of programmes currently scheduled to begin in 2021, such as the Horizon Europe R&D scheme.

“If we wait to the end of next year there’ll be two years wasted where researchers can’t research [and] young people won’t be able to go on their Erasmus+ trips,” said Juncker.

He added that leaders would not be able to agree a position on the budget when they next discuss it on 12 to 13 December, and he only hopes “things will be moved in a way that we can come closer to a decision” then.

According to the official conclusions of the meeting, the leaders “exchanged views on key issues” of the budget, “such as the overall level, the volumes of the main policy areas” and what could freeze payments to member states. They also called on the Finnish presidency of the Council to submit figures for negotiation ahead of the December meeting.