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.