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Parliament votes to double Fourth Framework Programme supplement to ECU 200 million

The European Parliament has adopted its opinion, at second reading, on the financial supplement for the Fourth RTD Framework Programme. At its meeting in Strasbourg on 13 March 1997, Parliament voted to double the financial supplement from the ECU 100 million agreed, following...
The European Parliament has adopted its opinion, at second reading, on the financial supplement for the Fourth RTD Framework Programme. At its meeting in Strasbourg on 13 March 1997, Parliament voted to double the financial supplement from the ECU 100 million agreed, following lengthy negotiations by the Ministers of the EU Member States, at the Research Council in December 1996, to ECU 200 million. It is now almost certain that the Council and Parliament will need to meet in conciliation to resolve the question, and there is a real possibility that the financial supplement may fall completely.

The Commission's proposal, dating from January 1996, for supplementary funding for the remaining years of the Programme, it should be recalled, was for an additional ECU 700 million. Following the failure of the EU's Finance Ministers to agree to transfer funding from the agriculture budget to support this increase, it was generally recognized that additional funding of this level would not be possible.

Nevertheless, the Parliament feels that the proposed addition of only ECU 100 million is insufficient and, consequently, has voted to double the financial supplement to ECU 200 million. MEPs voted in December 1996 to increase the research budget for 1997 by ECU 100 million, and they argue that since this increase was not taken into account by Ministers in adopting their common position, a supplement of ECU 200 million would not require the Council to allocate any additional funding over the ECU 100 million agreed by the Council.

As regards the spread of funding between the specific programmes, the Council allocated a total of ECU 65 million to the Telematics Applications, ESPRIT, BRITE/EURAM, Environment and Climate, and Transport programmes. The remaining ECU 35 million, to fund research into BSE (mad cow disease), was split between the Biotechnology, Biomedicine and Health and FAIR programmes. MEPs felt that the funding for BSE research was disproportionately high and, consequently, they have doubled the funding for the other programmes while leaving the BSE total at ECU 35 million. The remaining ECU 33 million would go to research into non-nuclear energy (JOULE/TEHRMIE).

The fate of the financial supplement is now back in the hands of the Council. Having warned the Parliament that opening up the question again would put the whole supplement at risk, and in view of the difficult negotiations needed to reach the common position, the Council is most unlikely to agree to the Parliament's move. The conciliation procedure, between the two institutions, will almost certainly be required, and this is likely to start in the next few months, although the prospects for an agreement there are still slim.

The budget available for the last calls in the specific programmes concerned will, therefore, not be finalized for some months. With time running out for the Fourth Framework Programme, the Commission has urged both the Council and Parliament to move quickly to settle the question.

Source: European Parliament
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