In May there was still general agreement that research needs extra resources to tackle Covid-19. During the negotiations, however, the budget was pared back significantly. The only way to secure the research funding is now via the European Parliament, which also has a vote in the budget.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who had already been forced to justify a planned reduction to 89.4 billion euros in the House of Representatives last week, said there was little to be done, although he was unwilling to talk about a cut.
The reduction of the Horizon budget seemed likely all weekend, provoking anger among European universities. On Friday, it had already been cut by 5 billion. Secretary-general of the European university organisation LERU, Kurt Deketelaere, called council president Charles Michel ‘a weak EU president’ and the EU leaders ‘gravediggers’.