The European Commission has asked for an extra €678 million for Framework 7, as part of nearly €1 billion of additional funds requested to boost research, innovation and education programmes in 2013.
The request is part of a proposal to amend the EU budget for 2013, submitted to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on 27 March. The Commission says the additional €678m is needed to pay bills for existing projects and to ensure it can sign grant agreements for Framework 7 projects scheduled for 2013.
“Delaying the signature of these grant agreements would disrupt the already complex planning and programming process, leading to delay in the recruitment of scientists, difficulties in their availability and instabilities of consortiums,” the Commission stated.
A further €304m is requested for other growth programmes under heading 1a of the EU budget, including €126m for education and the Erasmus student exchange programme.
In total, the Commission has requested €11.2bn extra to top up the 2013 budget of €133bn previously agreed by officials. The Commission says the money is needed to cover a shortfall in the EU budget that has arisen because member states have consistently set annual spending levels below that already committed by the EU.
Janusz Lewandowski, commissioner for financial programming and budget, said that this has created a “snowballing effect of unpaid claims” and that the request therefore “cannot come as a surprise”.
The proposal must now be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Representatives from the UK and the Netherlands have indicated they will oppose the request, with a UK government spokesperson calling the proposal “totally unacceptable”.
However, MEP Giovanni La Via, from the Group of the European People’s Party, said the proposal is only the “first step” in meeting the shortfall in EU funds. “More payments will be needed,” said La Via, who is the Parliament’s rapporteur for the 2013 budget.
MEPs have previously threatened to withhold their approval on the 2014-20 budget until member states balance the books for the current budget cycle.
- Laura Greenhalgh