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MEPs maintain demands for ECU 16,300 million for Fifth Framework Programme

A difference of ECU 2,300 million, or around one-eighth of the total budget, needs to be resolved before the Fifth RTD Framework Programme can be formally adopted. This gap was confirmed as the European Parliament followed the advice of its Research Committee and, in its secon...
A difference of ECU 2,300 million, or around one-eighth of the total budget, needs to be resolved before the Fifth RTD Framework Programme can be formally adopted. This gap was confirmed as the European Parliament followed the advice of its Research Committee and, in its second reading of the proposal on 17 June 1998, refused to see the Programme's budget reduced in line with the EU's Research Ministers' proposal. The divide between Parliament and Commission on the one hand, which both support a total budget of ECU 16,300 million, and the Council on the other, which could only settle on ECU 14,000 million must now be settled in conciliation talks, likely to be launched after the summer. Under this procedure, negotiators for the Parliament and Council would have just six weeks to reach agreement on the Programme, with such agreement subject to confirmation by the two institutions within a further six weeks.

The Parliament's second reading contains some 35 amendments to the Council's common position agreed on 12 February 1998. In addition to those concerning the budget, a number reflect concerns of the Parliament in respect of the implementation of the Programme. Other amendments relate to individual research fields in which the Parliament would like to see research efforts targeted more explicitly within the thematic programmes.

Speaking in the debate on the second reading, Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research and innovation, expressed the Commission's gratitude for the Research Committee's strong support for the original budget proposal of ECU 16,300 million. The budget agreed by the Council, she emphasized again, was not acceptable, representing a reduction in spending in real terms. The value of research to Europe was apparent in the news every day, she noted, before going on to reassure MEPs that the Commission would support the Parliament in conciliation to ensure that EU research spending would not be reduced.

The Parliament would have a greater involvement in the implementation of the Programme than in the past, according to the Commissioner, commenting on these amendments. On amendments other than those in respect of the budget, however, she felt that the common position already took on board a great proportion of the Parliament's first reading amendments, and said that the Commission would not be supporting these. Her position here partly reflects the difficulty in achieving unanimity in the Council; with the aim of reaching agreement on the Programme as quickly as possible, it would be better not to reopen the discussions on other areas of the text.

The budget figures (in ECU million) adopted by the Parliament at second reading are as follows:

- Thematic programmes (first activity): 12,000
. Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources: 3,250
. User-friendly Information Society: 3,750
. Competitive and Sustainable Growth: 2,630
. Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development:
. Environment and Sustainable Development: 1,185
. Energy: 1,185

- International cooperation (second activity): 500
- Innovation and SMEs (third activity): 420
- Human resources (fourth activity): 1,320
- Joint Research Centre (direct actions): 800

- MAXIMUM OVERALL AMOUNT: 15,040

The total of ECU 16,300 million is made up of this plus the ECU 1,260 million which will go to nuclear research activities under the Euratom Framework Programme. The Euratom Framework Programme is adopted under a separate procedure under which the Parliament has less influence, and the Council had reached agreement on this on 12 February 1998 at the same time as it agreed on its common position on the Fifth Framework Programme.

Source: European Parliament

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