LONDON—"Agriculture has a lobby. Research and development does not."

That comment last month from Karl-Heinz Narjes, vice president of the European Economic Community, summarized the problems facing the 12 nations in the Community as they struggled to agree on a new budget for collaborative research during the next five years.

West Germany, France and Britain, joined in December by the Netherlands, have been calling for a major reduction in the European Commission's ambitious proposal for a budget of $7.95 billion for the period 1987-1991. They argue that the amount is unrealistically high in light of the overall financial crisis caused by the Community's agricultural policy. Smaller EEC partners have supported the plan, which they see as a way to benefit from collaborative projects that would be too costly and complex for them to pursue alone.

These budget squabbles have made increasingly uncertain the future of three major projects: Esprit, a...

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