The European Parliament has formally approved Horizon 2020, the funding programme for research and innovation for the 2014-2020 period, almost putting the final seal on a budget tranche that would rise by 30% from the current period to a total of €80 billion.
Publication of the first calls for proposals will take place early next month (11 December), if EU member states now formally agree the move.
A large majority of the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg approved Horizon’s five draft regulations in a vote yesterday (21 November).
With a budget of nearly €80 billion, Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research programme yet, and one of the biggest publicly funded ones worldwide.
Research budget bucks the trend of austerity cuts
In times of austerity, It is also one of only very few programmes in the next EU budget to see a strong increase in funding, a nearly 30% jump in real terms over the current Seventh Framework Programme.
"Against a backdrop of severe economic crisis, investing in research and innovation could be a great opportunity for Europe," Portuguese Socialist MEP Marisa Matias, the rapporteur for the industry, research and energy committee of the Parliament, said after the vote.
Built on three pillars – excellent science, industrial leadership and societal challenges – Horizon aims to fund all types of activities, from exploratory science to close-to-market innovation.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the only body that provides funding directly to universities, has received a large funding boost under the proposals.
Commissioners hail boost for education, science
The programme for the first time brings all EU-level funding for research and innovation under one roof, providing a single set of rules, with the aim of slashing red tape. The overarching goal is a more coherent, simpler programme that will make it easier to participate, especially for smaller research organisations and small businesses.
"This is a vote of confidence in the power of EU research and innovation funding. It paves the way for more investment in knowledge and competitiveness in Europe. The European Parliament's support for and input to Horizon 2020 has been very important," said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the commissioner for research, innovation and science, following the vote.
"With the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and the Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Actions, Europe is investing in people who have the knowledge and talent to innovate and change lives. This is excellent news for the research community and the EIT's entrepreneurs of tomorrow," said Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, welcoming funding rises for the parts of Horizon 2020 under her responsibility.
"We have made substantial improvements to the programme with real simplification for participants, with more emphasis on the whole innovation chain from idea to market, and by encouraging innovation in the regions through links with the structural funds," said MEP Kent Johansson (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe; Sweden), who was the ALDE member in charge of Horizon 2020.
"I am particularly happy that we managed to earmark €2.7 billion for innovative SMEs. Here we now have a light administrative regime and a single entry point. This will put innovative SMEs in the driving seat,” Johansson added.
“The EU's choice to support growth areas such as research and innovation, but also education, could have been even more outspoken as originally proposed by the European Commission and the European Parliament,” said the League of European Research Universities (LERU) in a statement.
“But it is a very positive signal that the EU is investing more in growth and jobs in the next seven years than it did in the previous budgetary period. The EU wisely invests in these areas, which on the longer term will benefit the economy and society at large. LERU strongly calls on the member states to make the same bold choice,” LERU’s statement concluded.
"This is one of the few areas where the UK gets more back from the EU than it puts in. In my own region, 20 per cent of the research at Cambridge University is funded by EU grants. The funding is even more important to some less well known institutions,” said Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, the only British negotiator on Horizon 2020.
"Since 2007, over £450 million has come from Brussels just to the East of England's universities and businesses in for research projects, across the whole of the UK it is many billions. From curing cancer to tackling crop disease, from energy to industrial efficiencies, in small businesses as well as big. Research like this is the lifeblood of progress and enterprise, so we must keep it flowing," Ford added.
Horizon 2020 is a part of Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at enhancing global competitiveness. The European Union leads the world in some technologies, but faces increasing competition from traditional powers and emerging economies alike.
- 11 Dec. 2013: First calls for proposals on Horizon 2020 to be issued if member states agree Parliamentary settlement
- European Commission: Horizon 2020 official proposal
- European Commission: Europe 2020
- European Commission: CIP programme
- European Commission: EIT website
Think tanks & Academia
- European Research Council: Main web site
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