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Parliament aims to secure research funding for 1999

Completing its first reading of the draft EU budget for 1999 on 22 October 1998, the European Parliament voted to restore commitments for research spending in 1999 to the level proposed by the Commission. In a move separate from the on-going conciliation procedure on the Fifth...
Completing its first reading of the draft EU budget for 1999 on 22 October 1998, the European Parliament voted to restore commitments for research spending in 1999 to the level proposed by the Commission. In a move separate from the on-going conciliation procedure on the Fifth Framework Programme, MEPs have sent a further signal of their aims in respect of research funding to the Council.

Whilst the conciliation procedure continues to try and bridge the gap between the Council's highest offer of ECU 14,300 million and Parliament and Commission's position of ECU 16,300 million, the EU's annual budgetary procedure gives MEPs the opportunity to try to secure the maximum possible level of research funding for 1999, the first year of the new Framework Programme. By returning the research commitments to ECU 3,570 million - the level proposed by the Commission - the Parliament has overturned the Council's earlier reduction to ECU 3,400 million, almost ECU 100 million lower than the 1998 budget.

Overall, the Parliament agreed on total commitments of ECU 98,629 million for 1999, a figure slightly higher than that proposed by the Commission, and slightly higher again than the Council's figure. Major changes introduced by the Parliament over the Commission's proposals include an increase of some ECU 500 million for internal programmes such as education, environment and energy, and an increase of some ECU 1,000 million for foreign aid programmes. Albeit that certain proportions of these increases would be placed in a reserve until the Parliament is satisfied that the Commission has fulfilled certain criteria.

The 1999 draft budget will now return to the Council for a second reading, before Parliament completes its second reading in December, to ensure that the budget is settled before the start of the year. In respect of research, the funding for 1999 will be finalised at second reading, once the conciliation committee has reached agreement on the Fifth Framework Programme overall. It may be remembered that the committee first met on 29 September, and with a deadline of six weeks, which may be extended to eight weeks at most, any agreement would need to be reached before the end of November 1998.

Source: European Parliament

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