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The European Commission on Wednesday outlined a €100 billion budget for its new research programme, running between 2021 and 2027. 

The figure includes €97.6 billion  for Horizon Europe, the EU’s flagship research programme, and €2.4 billion for the Euratom nuclear research programme. For Horizon Europe, that’s an increase of almost 30 per cent – when adjusted for inflation – on the EU’s existing research programme of €77 billion Without the inflation adjustment, it’s a less-inspiring rise to €86.6 billion – though Commission officials are promoting the bigger number.

The Commission sent member states and the European Parliament an overall budget request of more than €1 trillion, equivalent to 1.11 per cent of the EU27's gross national income. It included reductions of 5 per cent each to the two largest EU spending programmes, farm and regional aid, to make room for more spending on research and defence. Tougher conditions are also placed on member states in receipt of funds, including economic reform and adherence to EU “values” such as rule of law.

The new research programme is one of the few EU budget lines to go up in the Commission’s seven-year proposal; another is the Erasmus+ student exchange programme, which sees its budget double to €30 billion. The Commission also requested €4.1 billion funding for defence research – an increase on the €3.5 billion originally proposed and way up from a current, €90 million pilot programme. The amount, if granted, would place the EU among the top four defence research and technology investors in Europe

EU research officials say they are very satisfied with the Horizon Europe increase, even if it is less than the €120 billion asked for by the European Parliament, and the €160 billion hoped for by lobbyists.

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