EU ministers today (3 December) formally agreed funding for educational and research programmes Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020, two of the largest budget gainers for the 2014-2020 period.
The decision by ministers meeting for the Competitiveness Council seals two budget tranches that will rise over the next seven years by 30% from the current period to a total of €80 billion in the case of Horizon, and 40% to €14.7 billion for Erasmus+.
The final signature by the European Parliament and the Council is now scheduled for the 11th of December, paving the way for the Erasmus+ programme to enter into force in January 2014.
“We will launch the first calls for funding under Horizon 2020 next week on December 11. These calls will be a huge opportunity for scientists and businesses across the EU and beyond and are not to be missed,” said Research Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, welcoming the news.
Horizon is Europe's biggest-ever research funding programme
A large majority of the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg approved Horizon’s five draft regulations and Erasmus+ in late November. EU ministers fully endorsed the texts voted by Parliament.
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.
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.
Built on three pillars – excellent science, industrial leadership and societal challenges – Horizon 2020 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.
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.
Erasmus should help transition to work
Erasmus+ brings together the EU's support for education, training and youth – which were previously divided into seven strands – into a single programme, and includes funding for sport for the first time.
"Erasmus+ will enable young people to increase their knowledge and skills through experience abroad which will improve their employability,” said Androulla Vassiliou, the commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth.
“While a majority of the budget will be used for individual mobility grants, Erasmus+ will also support partnerships to help people make the transition from education to work, and reforms to modernise and improve the quality of education in Member States," Vassiliou added.