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Parliament calls for budget overhaul to secure EIT funding

The EU's financial framework must be renegotiated to ensure the European Institute of Technology (EIT) is adequately funded, the European Parliament's Budget Committee has stated. Working out how to fund the EIT is a tricky task, as it was not included in the EU's financial...

The EU's financial framework must be renegotiated to ensure the European Institute of Technology (EIT) is adequately funded, the European Parliament's Budget Committee has stated. Working out how to fund the EIT is a tricky task, as it was not included in the EU's financial framework for 2007-2013, which was agreed at the December European Council meeting. Currently, the Commission is proposing that up to €1.5 billion be taken from the 'Competitiveness for growth and employment' budget line to fund the EIT. However, this budget line was cut substantially during the negotiations leading up to the Council's agreement on the financial framework. With this in mind, MEPs were unwilling to see it undergo further cuts. One of the key amendments adopted unanimously by the parliamentarians came from Czech MEP Nina Skottová. It calls on the Council to 'enter negotiations with Parliament on both the financing of the governing board of the EIT and the financing of Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), using all possibilities offered by the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) of 17 May 2006'. The Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) deal contains provisions for a revision of the multiannual financial framework. 'The Commission has proposed an indicative financial envelope for the EIT, set at €2.367 billion for a period of six years, starting from 1 January 2008. It foresees financing from different sources in the EU budget, which entails a number of risks,' said Ms Skottová, explaining the reasons behind her amendment. 'First, taking €308 million from the margin of the Heading 1A (Competitiveness and Growth) would leave almost no money for other new initiatives. Secondly, the idea that €1.5 billion of the EIT funding should come from other EU programmes, including Structural Funds, would imply reducing the already-scarce financial resources on these budget lines.' The Budget Committee's opinion on the EIT will now be forwarded to the Industry Committee, which has the lead on the issue. Meanwhile Annette Schavan, the German Research Minister and Chair of the EU's Competitiveness Council, is keen to get a basic agreement on the EIT from the Member States when they meet in Luxembourg later this month. Also on the Budget Committee's agenda was Galileo. The committee asked the Commission to produce a revised proposal for a regulation for the financing of the EU satellite system. The MEPs also call for a revision of the financial framework. 'The EIT is a 'must' for Parliament and we are keen to find a first-reading agreement,' said Reimer Böge, Chair of the Budget Committee, after the vote. 'On Galileo, we insist that any agreement on the funding of the European satellite navigation system has to be agreed in a co-decision procedure, hence with Parliament's approval.' The resolution on Galileo will be put to the vote in the Parliament's next plenary session in Strasbourg.

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