As part of a €1 trillion (£0.83 trillion) EU budget settlement announced this week, the EU’s research and innovation funding scheme Horizon 2020 will receive €70 billion between 2014 and 2020 – around €15 billion more than the €55 billion received under the current 7th Framework agreement that ran from 2007 to this year.
Erasmus+, which supports student exchange programmes between European universities, will receive a 40 per cent increase in its budget, with a total of €14.7 billion available between 2014 and 2020.
It also includes, for the first time, funding for staff, students and researchers to travel outside Europe and a pilot European Master’s Loan Guarantee Facility, which will provide loans at favourable rates for students pursuing master’s study in another European country.
The funding agreements were formally approved by the European Union in a vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 21 November.
The European Parliament had tried to increase Horizon 2020’s budget to €100 billion, up from the €80 billion suggested by the European Commission, but money-conscious member states downsized the budget to the final €70 billion settlement.
“This is a vote of confidence in the power of EU research and innovation funding,” said research commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.
The increase in the Erasmus+ budget demonstrates the “EU’s commitment to education and training”, said Androulla Vassiliou, commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth.
“Erasmus+ will also contribute to the fight against youth unemployment by giving young people the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills through experience abroad,” she said.
Under the new arrangements, all existing mobility programmes such as Lifelong Learning schemes (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig), Youth in Action and five international cooperation programmes (Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the programme for cooperation with industrialised countries) will be known as Erasmus+.
More than four million people will receive support to study, train, work or volunteer abroad, including two million higher education students, 650,000 vocational training students and apprentices, as well as more than 500,000 going on youth exchanges or volunteering abroad, the EU said.
The UK Higher Education International Unit said it was delighted to see teaching and research budgets protected despite a real-terms fall in the EU’s overall budget.
“These programmes will strengthen collaboration in both HE and research across Europe, bringing tangible benefits to European universities and citizens and indeed boosting the European economy,” said the unit’s director Joanna Newman.
Horizon 2020 will provide a higher funding rate for universities and relatively protect key programmes for the UK such as the European Research Council, she added.
In a statement, the League of European Research Universities said it was “pleased that a protracted and unsettling period of insecurity about the EU’s overall budget is finally over and that a close but still timely start of Horizon 2020 is now possible”.