EU Budget 2019 deal: EP boosts support for researchers and the young

Oettinger 2019 Budget__

Günther Oettinger, on the right, and Vytenis Andriukaitis © European Union , 2018 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


MEPs have fought for and obtained better support for students, unemployed youngsters and researchers, as well as additional funds to boost key initiatives supporting SMEs.

 

Late on Tuesday evening, the negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the 2019 EU Budget, a few days before the last plenary session of the year.
The preliminary figures are €165.8 billion in commitment appropriations and €148.2 billion in payment appropriations. Detailed figures will be available later.
Youth, growth and jobs
MEPs succeeded in reinforcing, on top of the Commission’s original budget proposal, programmes they considered key to boosting growth and jobs, reflecting widely agreed European Union priorities, namely Erasmus+ (+€240 million), Horizon 2020 (research programme, +€150 million) and COSME (support for SMEs, +€5 million). Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ will be further boosted through a €100 million amending budget coming next year.
All in all, Parliament obtained an additional €688.5 million in the area of “growth and jobs”, also securing an increase for the Youth Employment Initiative of €116.7 million in commitment appropriations, raising the total to €350 million, to help youngsters seeking a job.
Refugee and migration crisis, cutting funds for Turkey
For Parliament, tackling migration and security are also among the European Union’s top priorities. They managed to boost the Commission’s draft budget for agencies with security-related tasks (Europol, Eurojust).
Similarly, for the external dimension of the migration challenge, they boosted priority lines by €171 million (on top of the draft budget) on the EU’s external action, which includes the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods, Western Balkans, UNRWA (+€21 million) and the Development and Cooperation Instrument (+€63 million).
On Turkey, MEPs made sure pre-accession funds were cut by €146.7 million, as they consider the deteriorating situation in relation to democracy, rule of law and human rights worrying.
After having secured sufficient reinforcements for EU programmes fostering jobs, competitiveness and cohesion, Parliament also agreed to financing part of the €3 billion second tranche of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRT) with a total of €2 billion from the 2018 and 2019 budgets.
Climate and agriculture
As a supplementary effort to fight climate change, some of the reinforcements obtained by the EP (+€4 million for LIFE, +€8 million for sustainable transport in Horizon 2020) aim at inching closer to the target of 20% of climate-relevant spending in the EU budget for the 2014-2020 period.
Furthermore, the Parliament’s negotiating team has obtained an additional €15 million in EU support for member states affected by African swine fever.
Next steps
After Council has formally adopted the compromise, it will be submitted for approval to the Committee on Budgets on 10 December, then voted on in plenary in the European Parliament (planned for 12 December in Strasbourg) and signed into law by its President.
Around 94% of the EU’s budget goes to citizens, regions, cities, farmers and businesses. The EU’s administrative expenses account for approximately 6% of the total.
Quotes
“Despite it being impossible to apply the option in Article 15-3 of the new Financial Regulation to carry over research appropriations not committed in the previous financial year, I welcome the agreement. Two significant steps forward have been made in research (Horizon 2020, +11% compared to 2018), and mobility of young people, students and apprentices (ERASMUS, +12% compared to 2018). These two programmes will also benefit, as of the first half of 2019, from an overall bonus of 100 million euros via a draft amending budget. Let us be clear in our intentions with regard to other improvements in the field of security and defence, as well as in tackling migration policy”, said Jean Arthuis (ALDE, FR), Chair of the Committee on Budgets.
“With this proposal, the Parliament and the Council are endorsing a reasonable budget that will address some extremely important issues, like jobs, climate change, research & innovation and the human aspect of migration.

In the next weeks, we are going to finalise the deal and to get it approved by both branches of the budgetary authority”, said the lead rapporteur (Commission section of the EU budget 2019) Daniele Viotti (S&D, IT).
“It’s a great success for EU citizens, but also for a positive global development on science, with €150 million more for the Horizon 2020 programme. Youngsters will benefit from an additional €240 million for Erasmus, with €100 million more to come next year for both initiatives”, said Paul Rübig (EPP, AT), rapporteur for the other sections.
Background
Negotiations had resumed on the basis of a new Draft Budget, after the 21-day conciliation procedure provided for by the Treaty ended without an agreement two weeks ago. The last bones of contention were the necessary level of funding for researchers (Horizon 2020) and students (Erasmus+), where a vast majority of high-quality projects and applicants cannot be supported due to lack of funding available. In order to boost those programmes in line with Parliament’s demands, the Commission identified unused research appropriations from past budgets which had to be cancelled in 2017 and which could be revived, thanks to a new financial flexibility rule adopted by Parliament and the Council earlier this year. The Council, however, inflexibly refused to apply this new rule for 2019, and Parliament’s delegation therefore had to secure fresh appropriations instead (nearly half a billion Euros extra for both programmes).

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