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EU backs down on research cuts after pressure from scientists and MEPs

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has welcomed news that planned cuts to the EU's research budget have been reduced by £360 million following pressure from scientists and MEPs.

money.pngFollowing all night negotiations in Brussels last night between the Commission, European Parliament and Council, it was agreed that £1.6 billion will be taken from the EU's Horizon 2020 research programme in order to fund Commission President Juncker's Strategic Investment Fund, £360 million less than originally proposed. Funding for the European Research Council and Marie Curie Programme will be ring-fenced.

This comes after scientists from across Europe, including a group of 27 Nobel Prize winners, wrote a letter to President Juncker warning about the impact the cuts could have on innovation and science in Europe.

In February 2015 Catherine Bearder tabled a written question asking the Commission to clarify how it will ensure that money diverted from Horizon 2020 will result in an equal or higher level of investment in research and innovation.

Catherine Bearder commented:

"This scaling back of these cuts and ring-fencing of key programmes is a victory for the European Parliament and for science in Europe. You cannot lay the foundations for future growth by cutting investment in innovation.

"But 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.

"Each and every euro being taken from Horizon 2020 must end up delivering the same or greater amount of investment in research."

MEPs had pushed for the £57 billion Horizon 2020 research programme to be fully protected and for the funding for the European Fund for Strategic Investments to be found from elsewhere in the EU budget. Following negotiations the proposed £1.9 billion cut was reduced by £360 million by making use of unspent allocations from the EU's 2014 and 2015 budgets.

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