Fears that European Union funding for scientific research would be drastically cut have been somewhat allayed.
European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker had wanted to siphon off money from the €80bn Horizon 2020 research programme to the European Fund for Strategic Investments, but following pressure from MEPs and leading scientists, he’s agreed to take just €2.2bn and not the planned €2.7bn.
The spare €500m was found in unspent allocations from the EU's 2014 and 2015 budgets. Funding for the European Research Council and Marie Curie Programme will also be ring-fenced.
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who had put pressure on the Commish to change its plans, was pleased that the cuts had been scaled back, but wants more reassurances from Mr Juncker.
“Questions remain over the impact the remaining cuts will have. The Commission must explain how it will ensure that these cuts do not undermine the EU’s competitiveness and long-term economic future. You cannot lay the foundations for future growth by cutting investment in innovation,” she said.
There is more cash for tech, too. The latest draft of the EU budget for next year includes €141m ICT in the Connecting Europe Facility: it was allocated just over €90m in 2015. The money will go towards “promoting interoperability and upgrading of trans-European digital service infrastructures.” ®