EP and EUA critical of MFF cuts in Council agreement
The European Parliament (EP) has welcomed the agreement on the European Recovery Instrument (Next Generation EU) reached at the European Council on 21 July 2020. However, the EP is highly critical of the cuts to the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and says its agreement to the long-term EU budget "cannot be taken for granted".
With regard to the MFF, the EP states that it "cannot accept the proposed record low ceilings as they mean renouncing to the EU’s long-term objectives and strategic autonomy, while citizens ask for more: More European solidarity, more European action in public health, in research and digitalisation, youth, and in the historical fight against climate change". The Parliament criticises the fact that the budget for key programmes to reach these objectives has been considerably reduced and that they have lost most of their top-ups under Next Generation EU. The EP stresses that it will "strive to secure improvements, including higher amounts, on future-oriented MFF programmes like Horizon, InvestEU, LIFE, Erasmus+" and warns that it would adopt the programmes on the basis of the existing MFF, as foreseen by the Treaty, if its conditions were not sufficiently met. For the time being, Parliament remains ready to immediately enter negotiations in order to achieve what it would regard as a better agreement for Europe.
In a similar vein, the EUA (European University Association) has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the cuts made to the research and innovation budget in order to reach a deal. EUA sees Horizon Europe as "one of the victims of difficult negotiations, effectively becoming a “reserve fund” to cut from in order to grant higher rebates to some countries". The association stresses the fact that Horizon Europe is now allocated 13.5bn euros less than in the last European Commission proposal, with 5bn cut from the programme allocation in the MFF and 8.5bn euros removed from Next Generation EU. To the EUA, the "disappointment is all the more bitter as several member states - including those that fought for a smaller budget - reiterated the importance of R&I investment and budget “modernisation”".
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