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Ministers concur on EU research budget

A political deal in Strasbourg has at last revealed the likely budget of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme.

The European Parliament, the EU Council of Ministers and European Commission representatives have struck the €48 billion (£33 billion) deal in an overall agreement on the Brussels budget for 2007-13.

Officials warn that there could still be some budgetary tinkering in formal votes at the Council and Parliament, but the deal was sufficiently robust for Janez Potonik, the EU Research Commissioner, to declare: "I am pleased that an agreement has been reached. Now we have to get on with the important work of agreeing the programmes."

The deal represents a significant increase in research spending compared with the Sixth Framework Programme, which commanded €17.5 billion over five years. Although the EU gained ten new members in 2004 and will admit Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, annual FP7 funding will still be twice as much as for FP6.

Ministers, MEPs and Brussels officials also found €800 million more for lifelong learning, including the Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci programmes, taking this budget section up to €6.4 billion.

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