A range of European Union grants promoting studies of European law, politics, human rights and associated topics are to be grouped together in a programme to which any higher education institution may apply for funds.
The five-year programme proposed by the European Commission has a budget of fi129.6 million (£90 million). It formalises existing spending on the operating costs of bodies such as the European University Institute, Florence; the European Law Academy, Trier; the European Institute of Public Administration, Maastricht; and the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation.
But the 2004-08 programme allows for grant applications from any institution looking to promote the study of EU unity, notably the funding of "academic research on EU priority subjects, such as the future of Europe or dialogue between peoples and cultures, including research by young academics".
There is also money available for running pan-European higher education organisations, including grants for the "creation of national associations of teachers specialising in European integration". This money would be paid in addition to the EU's existing Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci educational programmes.
Assuming the as-yet-unnamed programme is approved by EU ministers, it would be assessed by the commission in 2007, which would then decide whether to ask ministers to approve another five years of spending.
The proposal follows a series of declarations by the EU in recent years that it should supplement national government education policies, boost EU cooperation on human rights and guarantee the budgets of institutions such as the European Masters Programme.