On 27 May, the European Commission presented its new proposal for the next long-term EU budget (Multiannual Financial Framework) and the recovery plan for the EU. The new proposal for the 2021-2027 long-term budget amounts to €1.1 trillion and is topped by another €750 billion through a new recovery fund called “Next Generation EU”, which would run from 2020-2024. The latter is a real novelty in EU history as it foresees that the EU collectively borrows money on the financial markets to obtain the best possible conditions and pays it back over more than 30 years (until maximum 2058) through the regular EU budget. The proposal also foresees an increase in the EU’s so-called “own resources”, for instance through the introduction of a new digital tax and a carbon border tax for products coming from outside the internal market, as well as the extension of and increase in revenue from the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
The European University Association (EUA) has made public a statemen about this proposal:
“The announcement made on Wednesday, 27 May recognises the need to invest in research, innovation and higher education to support society and the economy. The Commission has proposed increasing both the Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ programmes, which are core instruments for universities to contribute to the effort.”
“The increases, nevertheless, fall short of expectations and more importantly, fall short of societies’ needs. Compared to the figures from February, an additional 13.5bn will be channelled to research and innovation through Horizon Europe, via the temporary recovery scheme labelled “Next Generation EU”. This remains below the needs expressed before the Covid-19 crisis. EUA has backed the European Parliament in its bid to invest 120bn into the programme to start addressing the known shortcomings of the programme and the greater needs in a context of the green transition.”
“Erasmus+ funding increases compared to the February proposal (+3.4bn, reaching 24.6bn), but stagnates below the European Commission’s original plans and far below the European Parliament’s proposal. With great ambitions added to the new programme, including the European Universities Initiative, the reinforcement of mobility, and enhanced social inclusion, this increase however is not enough.”
Now member states and the European Parliament are examining the Commission proposal and the coming months will be decisive. Therefore, it is crucial to remind decision makers at European and national levels of the importance of investing in research, innovation and education.