In the wrestling match over the EU budget for 2007 – 2013 now going on, there is a very serious risk that priorities will be put upside down.
In its proposal, the Commission has recommended a doubling of spending on research. This is a rather natural consequence of both the global competition in excellence and the policy commitments made at various European meetings over the past few years.
But there is now a serious risk that the increase will be cut back very substantially.
It will be hit be the combination of French reluctance to cut further agricultural spending and resistance from six states – Sweden among them – to agree to any increase in spending at all.
A Luxembourg compromise might then be that the French get their agricultural subsidies and the reluctant Swedes and others get their restrictions on any increases.
By definition, what will then be cut is the big increase in research that the Commission has proposed. In the different compromise packages on the table at the present, the cuts in the Commission proposal are between 69 % and 45 %.
Not good – to put it very mildly.
A Europe that wants to succeed must have its priorities right.
Now there is a serious risk that it gets them seriously wrong.