In last month’s edition of the VPH newsletter, we drew attention to the shrewd political move of President Juncker in plundering the coffers of the European Research Council (ERC) to fund his new European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI).
This new fund is essentially the structural funds called something else and would cut the funding of the ERC by over 220 million euro. We stipulated that taking money from the ERC specifically was based on the idea that Members of the European Parliament would not cause political waves in Brussels because the ERC was a controversial and divisive topic in the European Parliament during the Horizon 2020 discussions in 2011/2012.
There was just one thing we did not count on - MEPs also figured out President Juncker’s reasoning and they were not happy about it.
On 24 February 2015, a meeting of the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) was held with one of the main items of the agenda being the Proposal for a Regulation on the Strategic Investment Fund.
Christian Ehler (EPP, Germany) who was heavily involved in the drafting on the Horizon 2020 texts, was one of the first MEPs to directly call out what was going on and suggested that the cuts were made on the notion they would receive less political objection and that the Regulation was drafted in such a way as to help it to pass quickly.
Other MEPs echoed this sentiment and it became clear quite quickly that President Juncker’s ruse had not worked. The European Council and Parliament will now be engaged in a battle over a complex piece of legislation involving multiple committees. Not quite what President Juncker had planned.
The full text of the Proposal for a Regulation on the Strategic Investment Fund can be found here.