The debate establishing the priorities for the forthcoming Sixth Framework Programme on research is set to stretch past New Year's Day, the date on which the €17.5 billion (£11 billion) scheme is due to begin.
Spain, which assumes the European Union's presidency on the same day, said it wanted the programme, which will run until 2006, agreed at the Council of Research Ministers on March 11.
Some 248 of the 334 amendments made to the programme were accepted by the European Parliament last month.
These included the extension of the genomics and health section to include studies into all living organisms; the widening of medical research, especially into cancer; and the strengthening of agricultural research into the security of food supplies.
The parliament's amendments on spending an extra €100 million on nuclear fusion research and diverting money from the contingency fund for unplanned future scientific needs were rejected.