On 29 May 1996, the European Commission adopted the draft operating budget for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) for 1997. The budget, totalling ECU 265.5 million, is proposed in line with the Commission decisions on the gradual phasing out of the ECSC budget. The ECSC is expected to expire at the end of its 50-year term in July 2002. The rate of levies has therefore been in gradual decline since 1991; in 1997 the levy is reduced from 0.19% to 0.17%. Of the total ECU 265.5 million, ECU 82 million is proposed for research aid, of which ECU 54 million is for the steel sector and ECU 28 million for the coal sector. The allocation for social aid for the coal and steel sector is ECU 78 million. This includes ECU 56 million for the redeployment of workers, and ECU 22 million for social measures connected with the restructuring of the coal industry. It is proposed that ECU 93.5 million remain unused in 1997. Such a budget surplus would cushion the effect of the further levy reduction in 1998 and 1999. The draft ECSC budget will now go to the European Parliament for its opinion and to the Council and the ECSC Consultative Committee for information. Based on their reactions the Commission will adopt the ECSC budget before the end of the year.