THE European Commission may be willing to lower its target for research funding by up to Ecu1 billion (Pounds 700 million), Edith Cresson, the commissioner for research, has said.
A Framework V programme budget of Ecu15.3 billion might be acceptable, rather than the commission sticking to its demands for Ecu16.3 billion, she told a conference in Coventry last week. But it would not give way to European ministers and go below this figure as this would represent a real-terms cut in Framework funding, she added.
"I think we can forget the Ecu16.7 billion that the European Parliament has asked for, and maybe the Ecu16.3 billion as well. But we must aim not to decrease the budget compared to the Fourth Framework, which would leave us very weak compared to America," she said.
Madame Cresson's comments at the conference on links between industry and academia will hearten ministers, who have been preparing for battle since they agreed a Framework V budget of just Ecu14 billion in February.
Madame Cresson described that agreement as "a dark day for European research".