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Research wins in draft EU budget

The European Commission has proposed an increase in Europe’s research budget next year of 13.3% to €7.6 billion. The potential windfall for research was announced in the Commission’s draft EU budget for 2012, published yesterday.

The draft budget proposes total spending rises of 4.9% on 2011 figures, totalling €132.7 bn.

Budget and Financial Programming Commissioner, Janusz Lewandowski, said the proposed increase is the “bare minimum” required to honour legal commitments that have been made on existing contracts. A decrease below these proposed figures could result in the Commission being “sued” for not respecting the terms of contracts, he warned.

The Commission has cut funding for programmes that it regarded were not performing well, including the GALILEO project to develop Europe’s own global navigation satellite system, which will see a budget cut of €24.9 million in 2012.

The Commission’s plans have not been well received by member states and members of the European Parliament (European Voice, EU Observer).

George Osborne, the UK’s finance minister, called the proposed increase “completely unacceptable”, and Jan Kees de Jager, the Dutch finance minister, said the rise was “out of proportion” with austerity measures being imposed in member states, reports the European Voice.

Heads of State will formally comment on the draft budget in June, followed by the European parliament in October.

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