03 Jul 2020   |   News

HORIZON BLOG: Research and innovation in the next EU budget

Latest: Commission launches first €1 billion Innovation Fund call for project proposals

The European Commission is working on a new proposal for its 2021-2027 multiannual budget, which is to be paired with a recovery plan aimed at helping the EU come out of the looming recession set in motion by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here, we gather the latest news and reactions to how the EU is planning to fund its research and innovation programmes during the difficult period ahead.

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13:20 CET, 3 July: Commission launches first €1 billion Innovation Fund call for project proposals

The European Commission today launched the first call for project proposals under the Innovation Fund, the EU’s programme financing breakthrough green technologies.

The call will provide €1 billion in grants to large-scale green technology projects developing solutions for clean hydrogen, renewable energy, energy-intensive industries, energy storage, and carbon capture, use and storage.

The goal of the fund is to help clean energy projects reach the market and overcome commercialisation  risks. An extra €8 million is set aside for projects that are not yet ready for the market.

The call remains open until 29 October 2020. All submissions will be evaluated based on their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emission, financial and technical maturity, and potential for scaling up, innovation and cost efficiency.

The Innovation Fund, which is set to invest €10 billion in green technologies by 2030, is a key part of the Commission’s plans to lead Europe to climate neutrality by 2050. It is financed by the revenues from the auction of emission allowances from the EU's Emissions Trading System.


14:48 CET, 1 July: Commission authorises new EU-backed Ebola vaccine

The European Commission today announced it has granted marketing authorisation for a new vaccine against Ebola to Janssen, a pharmaceutical company owned by Johnson & Johnson. 

The development of the new vaccine was funded with over €130 million through the Innovative Medicines Initiative, the EU’s public-private partnership with the pharmaceutical sector, partly financed by Horizon 2020.

The vaccine, which consists of two components, called Zabdeno and Mvabea, was tested on 3,367 adults, adolescents and children in five clinical trials conducted in Europe, Africa and the US. It is the second Ebola vaccine to be authorised by the Commission in the past year.


15:06 CET, 30 June: EIC advisory board releases roadmap for the project’s future

The European Innovation Council (EIC) Advisory Board today published recommendations on how to pave the way to a full-fledged EIC under Horizon Europe.

The report includes advice on tracking the EIC’s performance, revamping its equity fund and connecting research with market opportunities.

When it comes to the equity fund, the Board acknowledges there is a huge demand for the new funding option but says the application process is still too difficult, feedback takes too long and decision-making is not flexible enough. To solve the issues, the report recommends addressing them by drawing lessons from private venture capital.

On connecting advanced research and the market, the Board suggests moving “beyond the linear model of research to innovation to enable far more dynamic interactions and pathways” and creating portfolios on initiatives clustered around similar themes, which would ensure all options for different technologies are tested and compared.

The recommendations made by the Board of 22 innovators will feed into the preparations for the launch of the full EIC under Horizon Europe in 2021.


13:21 CET, 30 June: Parliament budget committee chair scolds lengthy budget negotiations, asks Commission for contingency plan

Johan Van Overtveldt, the chair of the budget committee at the European Parliament, today criticised the European Council for taking over a year to agree on the EU’s next long term budget and asked the European Commission to finally deliver a contingency plan in case the negotiations fail.

At a press conference today, Van Overtveldt warned the European Council meeting next month, where the budget will be discussed, “will not be the end of the story” and asked the member states to do their best “to quickly reach an agreement.”

“There is no reason why the responsibility of going fast should only fall on the European Parliament,” said Van Overtveldt, reminding the Council that their agreement will have to go back to the Parliament to be approved.

He also addressed the European Commission and once again asked for a back-up plan in case the new budget is not ready by 2021. “Do not act as the Council’s secretariat, be the guardian of the Treaties,” said Van Overtveldt addressing the Commission.

The Parliament is demanding a “sufficiently high” EU budget that would address both urgent needs and long-term priorities. “These two elements have to be combined,” said Van Overtveldt.


11:43 CET, 29 June: Commission jumpstarts EU’s flagship neuroscience project with €150 million

The Human Brain Project (HBP), the largest brain science project in Europe, will start its final phase after receiving a new grant of €150 million from the European Commission.

In its final phase, the project, started in 2013, will investigate brain networks, their role in consciousness, and artificial neural nets with the help of big data, simulation, robotics and artificial intelligence. The new research will help expand the project’s atlas and database on the human brain, EBRAINS, which will remain the legacy of the initiative after it ends in 2023.


13:40 CET, 23 June: EIC officially launches its equity fund for innovation

The European Innovation Council (EIC) today announced it has officially established its fund for direct equity investments in innovative companies.

The fund will invest in start-ups by acquiring 10 to 25 per cent of their stakes for a limited time until private capital step in. This way, the EIC will help fill the gap in start-up funding in the EU by taking risks private investors are not willing to take.

Since the launch of the equity financing programme in 2019, 102 companies have been pre-selected to receive a total of nearly 400 million of the so-called blended finance. More companies will be selected in July and November.

The fund is expected to make up around a third of the EIC’s budget, which is currently set at 10 billion under the European Commission’s latest EU budget proposal.


11:50 CET, 23 June: IMI launches final €59 million funding call for medical research

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) today announced six funding opportunities for medical research projects in its last €59 million call for proposals under the Horizon 2020 programme.

The six opportunities call for research on beating cancer with the help of artificial intelligence, modelling antimicrobial resistance, creating a platform for neurodegenerative disease research, speeding up rare disease diagnosis, ensuring the return of clinical trial data to participants, and guiding patient adherence.

“These final IMI2 Calls showcase the areas where IMI is best placed to make a difference,” said Pierre Meulien, chief of the IMI, the EU’s flagship public-private partnership on health research under Horizon 2020.


10:35 CET, 23 June: Partnering with RTOs is key in the success of Horizon ‘missions’, says association

Research and technology organisations should play a key role in the development, design and implementation of the EU’s research ‘missions’, according to the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO).

The five missions are big research programmes with ambitious goals, such as beating cancer or adapting to climate change, which will be launched under Horizon Europe. In a paper released yesterday, EARTO argues research and technology organisation have the right expertise to directly support the missions and act as intermediaries between the EU and the many stakeholders in the programmes.

At the same time, the association calls for a correspondingly ambitious budget for the missions: EARTO wants policymakers to direct at least 60 per cent of Horizon Europe money to the part of the programme funding the large-scale projects.


17:58 CET, 22 June: Hydrogen-powered planes are key to reaching climate goals, say two EU research partnerships eyeing new Horizon budget

In a bid to secure funding under the new Horizon Europe programme, two public-private partnerships, Clean Sky 2 and Fuel Cells & Hydrogen 2, released a study showing hydrogen’s potential in making aviation more sustainable.

The study found that hydrogen could be used to power small planes as soon as 2035, reducing each flight’s climate impact by 50 to 90 per cent at a cost of less than €18 per passenger.

The leaders of the two programmes researching aeronautics and the use of hydrogen as a power source argue the study shows their joint work is integral in reaching the EU’s sustainability goals.

Our ultimate goal is to achieve climate-neutral aviation by 2050. Turning this ambition into reality requires the seamless integration of a range of important new technological advancements, one of which is hydrogen-powered aircraft, said Axel Krein, director of Clean Sky 2.

Public-private partnerships are long-term initiatives set up by the European Commission together with private partners to coordinate and fund R&D in specific areas.


17:15 CET, 22 June: MEPs unhappy with lack of progress in EU budget negotiations

At the budget committee meeting today, MEPs expressed disappointment about the lack of progress made in EU budget negotiations at the European Council last Friday.

Following last week’s summit, European Council President Charles Michel announced he will start “real negotiations” with the member states and come up with a concrete proposal before the next summit in July. With only six months left until the start of the new budget cycle, many MEPs believe the Council’s approach lacks urgency.

“We’ve been waiting since 14 November 2018 for the Council,” said MEP Jose Manuel Fernandes. “Once again the Parliament is the one showing how responsible and decided we are.”

Prolonged negotiations are bad for the Parliament: the longer the Council takes to agree on the budget, the less time MEPs will have to discuss whether they accept the proposal. Some MEPs warned the rush to agree on the budget at the Parliament may result in a reduced and unsatisfactory budget for the next seven years.

“Urgency cannot justify giving up the Parliament’s prerogatives,” said MEP Johan van Overtveldt, who chaired the meeting. ”We will seek to significantly improve the package on the table.”

At the meeting, the MEPs also discussed the recovery loan repayment scheme and urged the European Commission to clarify where the money for the repayments will come from.


11:52 CET, 19 June: Boost Horizon Europe to at least €150 billion to ensure health safety in Europe, life science research alliance tells policymakers

EU-LIFE, an alliance of life sciences research centres, says without a Horizon Europe budget of at least €150 billion the EU “will not have the required resources to ensure the health safety of its citizens”.

In a statement released this week, the alliance urged EU leaders to increase funding for Horizon Europe and ensure basic research plays a key role in the programme, with at least 35% of the budget dedicate to it.

“Only discovery-driven research, embedded in a strong health industry ecosystem, will bring Europe lasting – and faster – solutions to the health challenges of our society,” says the statement.

The alliance also believes Europe needs stronger coordination of research and innovation policy, better data sharing, and joint preparedness plan to be able to tackle future crises – and calls on policymakers to ensure these measures are in place.  


18:28 CET, 18 June: Research centre based on world’s biggest neutron gets €50 million reinforcement from the EIB

The European Central Bank (EIB) is set to lend the European Spallation Source an additional €50 million, increasing its total financing of the research centre to €150 million.

The new funding will help build the multi-disciplinary research centre in Sweden and Denmark, with construction set to be finished in 2025.

Spallation sources scatter neutrons, offering the possibility to study material structures and motions at an atomic or molecular level. The European Spallation Source will be based on world’s biggest neutron, enabling scientists from many disciplines to investigate basic atomic structures and forces at length and time scales unachievable at other spallation sources.


17:21 CET, 18 June: University group calls for more education and research funding in EU’s recovery package

The Coimbra group, a European university lobby association, calls on policymakers to strengthen investments in education and research by including funding for Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe in the EU’s recovery package.

In a statement released this week, the group expressed concern about the lack of explicit support for education and the Erasmus+ programme in the current recovery budget proposal, and reminded EU leaders that “the future of Europe will crucially depend on the support given to its young people and their commitment to the further development of Europe.”


17:01 CET, 18 June: Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ budgets ‘do not meet Europe’s needs’, says university group

The European University Association (EUA), Europe’s largest university lobby group, says the proposed Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ budgets are insufficient to address the EU’s recovery needs.  

In a statement published a day before EU leaders are set to discuss the new EU budget, the group calls on policymakers to increase the budget for Horizon Europe, invest more in basic research, which gets no funding under the Commission’s recovery package, and increase support for humanities and social sciences.

“The EU’s collective aspirations towards European R&I and education programmes have never been higher as they aim at fostering the green and digital transitions,” says the statement. “Budgets allocated to these policy objectives should provide the means to deliver on those ambitions.”

The group also asks policymakers to increase funding for Erasmus+ and ensure there is enough money for collaboration with countries outside the EU.


15:45 CET, 18 June: Science Europe: Commission budget proposal could ‘seriously damage’ excellent science pillar in Horizon Europe

Science Europe, the association representing Europe’s major public research organisations, says EU leaders should reconsider European Commission’s budget proposal for Horizon Europe, as it could be “seriously damaging” for parts of the programme focused on blue sky research and research mobility.

According to the commission’s budget proposal released in May, most Horizon Europe programmes would lose 3.2 per cent of their budget. Meanwhile, the commission proposed to give a €13.5 billion boost from its pandemic recovery fund to the European Innovation Council and applied research in health, digital and climate.

Science Europe says the plan should be “reconsidered” so that the recovery money also reaches the coffers of European Research Council, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and research infrastructures.

In addition, Science Europe has reiterated previous calls for a €120 billion budget for Horizon Europe, a marked increase from the current proposal, which is to be discussed by EU leaders in a videoconference on Friday 19 June.


09:29 CET, 18 June: MEPs to vote on setting up special committees on digital issues, cancer and foreign interference

In plenary today, the European Parliament will vote on setting up new special committees on beating cancer, foreign interference in EU politics, and artificial intelligence and the digital transformation.

If established, the three groups will bring together expertise from different committees to solve pressing issues. They will make policy proposals, however, will not be able to adopt new rules themselves. For now, they will run for up to twelve months, unless their term is extended.

There will also be a vote on setting up a permanent subcommittee on tax matters under the Parliament’s ECON committee and a committee of inquiry on animal transportation, which would investigate breaches in the implementation of EU laws in member states.

The results of the votes will be out tonight at 22.15 CET.


17:48 CET, 16 June: Parliament votes on changes to EIT's legal framework and sets rules for post-crisis recovery

The European Parliament’s industry committee today voted in favour of new changes to the governing rules of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Under the new rules, the EIT’s eight public-private partnerships, the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), will draw up two-year plans for post-COVID recovery and adopt necessary tools to help their members adapt to new working methods.  

In total, over 600 amendments were added to the European Commission’s proposal that simplify the EIT’s financial and administrative rules, ensure more transparency, and set standards for geographical and gender balance in the work of its KICs.

Now, the Parliament will have to negotiate with the Council and the Commission to pass their amendments. “We hope that we can finalise the negotiations and keep the proposal of the Parliament in its main lines of intervention,” said MEP Maria Matias.


13:38 CET, 16 June: Create growth through EU-level equity investments in scale-ups, recommends investor group

Ahead of the EU budget discussions in the coming weeks, Tech Tour, an investor group, published a paper suggesting the EU should invest more in taking equity stakes in SMEs to help them scale up as a way to address the current economic challenges posed by COVID-19. In the paper, the group argues SMEs will lead future job creation and innovation, and equity investments, which are more effective than loans, are essential in helping these companies grow.

The idea of the European Commission investing in company shares stirred controversy when it was first introduced a year ago. However, the scepticism has died down since, and last week the European Innovation Council announced its biggest equity investment to date, worth €174 million.


20:54 CET, 15 June: Research infrastructures, with an eye on budget, argue they’re needed for Horizon ‘missions’

A week before European leaders are set to discuss the next EU budget, an association of big research infrastructure published a paper arguing why their labs are needed to make a success of the EU’s planned research ‘missions.’

As part of its next big R&D programme, Horizon Europe, the European Commission plans to launch five missions – big, ambitious efforts involving many researchers – such as tackling cancer and adapting to climate change. In its paper, the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) Forum details how its members “contribute to” these projects.  ERICs are big research facilities that are legally incorporated under a special EU regulation, and usually receive at least some of their funding from Horizon.


15:32 CET, 12 June: Increase Horizon Europe budget to about €120 billion, urge European research chiefs

Leaders of six leading European research organisations are calling on EU policymakers to increase the budget of Horizon Europe from the €94.4 billion foreseen by the European Commission to around €120 billion as recommended by the European Parliament in 2018.

The group believes research will play a key role in the post-pandemic recovery and an ambitious Horizon Europe budget is key to guaranteeing Europe has the means to build a prosperous future. “Massive investments in research, comprising the entire knowledge value chain in terms of technology readiness levels, from basic research to market deployment will be essential to return to economic and societal prosperity following the pandemic,” says the group’s statement.

The statement was signed by the presidents of the G6 network of European research organisations: Italy’s National Research Council (CNR), France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Spain’s Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association, and the Max Planck Society.


18:04 CET, 12 June: ISE warns new budget proposal undermines basic research  

The Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), a group of research organisations and learning societies, is concerned that basic research will be underfunded in the next EU budget if the European Research Council gets a funding cut.

Under the new European Commission budget proposal, the ERC gets a 3.2 per cent cut along with many other projects financed under Horizon Europe.

“Without basic research in the picture, the EU will not properly address Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness. We call on the Commission to allow all forces to join together, including scientists working in basic sciences.,” says the group’s statement issued today.

In late April, the group sent an open letter to EU leaders asking them to avoid overfunding research fields relevant to the current pandemic, however, they regret their voice has not been heard.


17:27 CET, 12 June: Strengthen ERA and fund basic research, says university lobby group

University Association CESAER Tuesday issued a statement urging EU leaders to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA) and avoid diverting funding from basic to applied research.

Under the European Commission’s new proposal, the 13 billion Horizon Europe boost will only fund the European Innovation Council and applied research projects in health, digital and climate, while other Horizon programmes get a 3.2 per cent cut. The group believes the new proposal risks underfunding basic research and says the budget should not be further tilted towards applied research.

CESAER also urge EU leaders to strengthen the ERA with a new funding instrument, a framework for talent circulation, and a boost for research organisations in underperforming countries.

“Now is the right time to fully acknowledge the vital importance of research, education and innovation and their value as global public goods,” says the group’s statement.


12:37 CET, 12 June: Art school lobby group calls for more money for Erasmus+, Creative Europe and Horizon Europe

The European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA) have issued a statement asking member states to allocate more funding for arts and education in the next EU budget.

The lobby group want policymakers to increase funding for Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe, and double the budget for Creative Europe, a programme supporting the creative and cultural sectors, which has been allocated €1,52 billion under the new European Commission proposal

While the new proposal does allocate more funding to Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ compared the version presented in February 2020, this is not nearly sufficient to realize the full potential and ambitions of these programmes,” says the group's statement.


12:11 CET, 12 June: 'Friends of the ERC' petition surpasses 10,000 signatures

Since the European Commission announced its new EU budget proposal in late May, almost 4,000 more people have signed an online petition in support of preserving fair funding for the European Research Council (ERC).

The petition, which currently boasts over 10,300 signatures, calls on EU policymakers to avoid budget cuts for the ERC and at least maintain the current funding levels. The signatories, who call themselves the "Friends of ERC", published an open letter outlining their request to European leaders in April.


12:30 CET, 29 May: Patients’ group backs Commission plan for expanded health programme

The European Commission’s proposal to beef up its health efforts with a €9.4 billion Health4EU programme got the endorsement of the European Patients Forum, an umbrella organisation for patients’ associations. “The time is now right for a coordinated Europe to protect our health,” the group said in a statement.

Among the specific measures it urges: supporting joint EU procurement of medicines, vaccines and devices, and linking the new health programme to health research in Horizon Europe and the Innovative Medicines Initiative.


15:45 CET, 28 May: Another university group urges EU to invest more in knowledge

In reaction to the new EU budget proposal, the Coimbra Group said the commission showed a clear lack of ambition in strengthening investment in research and education.

Disappointed with the current proposal for the Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ programmes, the lobby group calls on policymakers to set more ambitious budgets for the two programmes and provide better support for young people.


13:39 CET, 28 May: More clarity needed over new Horizon budget, says research university lobby group

The Guild of European Research Intensive Universities says the new Horizon Europe budget proposal is “a step in the right direction” but joins other lobby groups in calling for an urgent clarification of how the new recovery programme is linked to Horizon Europe.

The Guild wants the commission to explain how the recovery package, NextGenerationEU, will affect research funding, declaring that Horizon Europe must retain “an exclusive focus on, and a proper balance between, research and innovation.”

The group is also disappointed with the insufficient Erasmus+ budget increase.

“Unless we strengthen Europe’s scientific resilience, any investment in Europe’s recovery could easily be undermined by another crisis,” says the group’s statement.


12:03 CET, 28 May: Lithuania issues guidance for the country‘s participation in Horizon Europe

The day after the commission announced its new budget proposal, the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, announced four policy recommendations for enhancing the country‘s participation in the Horizon Europe programme.

In an online event, Nausėda declared „business as usual is no longer relevant“ in the country that ranks 24th among member states in terms of participation in Horizon projects.

The new recommendations include redesigning the structure of R&I policy in the country, giving incentives to encourage engagement in Horizon Europe, and expanding international links and local research competences.

EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel gave a speech at the online event, promising more money for underperforming Horizon countries: „I think that we must seize this opportunity, this turning point moment, to bridge the research and innovation divide and advance Europe together. That is why, and you know that it‘s a priority for me, under Horizon Europe, support for less performing countries will be extended and the budget will be increased,“ said Gabriel.


09:52 CET, 28 May: New Horizon budget falls short of expectations, says university lobby group

The European Universities Association (EUA) says the new Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ budget increase falls short of societies’ needs as the new proposal stagnates below the commission’s original plans.

The group, which previously backed the Parliament’s proposal to invest 120 billion in Horizon Europe, says that Horizon and Erasmus+ programmes are essential to allowing universities to contribute to the economic recovery efforts in a time when the need for innovation has never been higher.

Now, the group calls on member states to “support long-term recovery through a higher commitment to research, innovation and education.”


08:31 CET, 28 May: MEPs say Horizon Europe budget rise is not enough

The European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee members welcome the increase in the Horizon Europe budget but say it is not enough as details about the programme remain unclear.

“We congratulate Commissioner Gabriel for the roughly €10 billion increase to HEU. But this is not enough” said German MEP Christian Ehler, adding that the digitalisation of the EU should be financed just as well as the green transition.

Dan Nica, a Romanian MEP, emphasised how valuable the programme is to Europe: “Let's keep in mind that even €10 billion extra for Horizon Europe would add 110 billion to the EU GDP over 25 years, 100.000 jobs by 2040, 5 300 more R&I projects funded, 12.000 testing activities and 500 more clinical trials."

The committee will vote on starting negotiations with the Council on the Horizon Europe programme today.


21:09 CET, 27 May: Budget cuts for youth programmes are unacceptable, says Parliament committee

The European Parliament’s culture and education committee is calling for the commission to rethink its “deeply disappointing” budget proposal for Erasmus+, Creative Europe and European Solidarity Corps programmes.

The amount proposed for the three youth programmes today is lower than the original proposal from 2018 but slightly higher than the European Council’s negotiating figures from February.

 "While the Commission's proposed recovery plan has a lot going for it, the specific figures for the education, culture and youth programmes are deeply disappointing and simply not in line with the statement by the Commission President on the importance of future generations, along with education and culture," says the committee’s statement.


19:21 CET, 27 May: LERU calls for clarification of Horizon Europe budget

The League of European Research Universities (LERU) says Horizon Europe fails to get a much-needed boost under the new budget proposal while the exact details of how much money will be available under different funds remain unclear.

LERU chief, Kurt Deketelaere, points to a reinforcement of Horizon Europe mentioned in the policy documents and says the commission has failed to clarify what exactly this means.

Moreover, calculating the exact boost is tricky, says Deketelaere. The €94.4 billion proposed today is in 2018 prices, which translates to €106.4 billion in current prices, while the initial 2018 proposal of €94.1 billion was made in 2020 prices, which translates to €83.5 billion in 2018 prices.

“Horizon Europe does not get the significant boost we had hoped for, although we should not forget that we come from €80 billion euro [proposal] at the last European Council meeting,” says LERU chief Kurt Deketelaere.


15:26 CET, 27 May: EU must step up efforts in energy, ecosystem and health, say European science academies

The  European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) wants the EU to lead  post-coronavirus green recovery efforts and harmonise health policy across member states.

The group believes the EU must transform its energy to stop reliance on combustion of carbon and strengthen local and regional food supply while reducing agriculture’s climate impact in the Common Agriculture Policy. “During the pandemic, coal-fired power generation has been significantly reduced and there has been a dramatic fall in oil consumption for transport”, says William Gillett, EASAC’s Energy Programme Director.

EASAC also pointed out the mismatch between health policies, decided by member states, and policies on energy, agriculture and environment, harmonised at EU level. Member states should give European Institutions more responsibility for health to generate effective decision-making, the group said.


14:29 CET, 27 May: Military R&D gets the chop in new EU budget

Money proposed for the new European Defence Fund has dropped from €13 billion to €8 billion, the Commission’s revamped budget reveals.

The chop wasn’t as bad as some feared, however (€6 billion was the figure touted earlier this week).

The money is intended for collaborative defence research into military hardware including drones and lighter-weight armour for soldiers.


13:42 CET, 27 May: New budget proposal foresees €94.4 billion for Horizon Europe

The commission wants to allocate €94.4 billion from the next multiannual EU budget to Horizon Europe. 

Many figures have been proposed so far for the Horizon Europe budget. The latest one was announced in February by the European Council President Charles Michel, in a proposal that allocated €80.9 billion to the core programme and an additional €3.11 billion for research and innovation funded through InvestEU.

MEP and Horizon Europe co-rapporteur Dan Nica says the new figure proposed by the commission “is already something” compared the €80.9 billion figure.

It is not clear yet whether the new amount includes funding from InvestEU or money that is to be routed to Euratom, EU’s nuclear research programme.


13:34 CET, 27 May: EU wants €9.4 billion for new health fund

As was widely expected, the European Commission today proposed a new standalone health programme, with a budget of €9.4 billion for prevention, crisis preparedness, the procurement of vital medicines and equipment, as well as improving long-term health outcomes.

The money sought for the programme, to run from 2021 through 2027, is a big increase on the €413 million initially earmarked.

EU law says healthcare is mainly a matter for the member states to manage on their own, so the proposal could face significant resistance.

The commission’s role in health is traditionally around the edges: investing in research, coordinating expert networks for rare diseases, and promoting public health policies against AIDS, smoking and other problems.


13:20 CET, 27 May: Germany to funnel 10 billion into R&I and education 

The German research ministry today announced a proposal to funnel 10 billion into research, education, and innovation as part of the government’s sustainable and digital economic recovery programme.

Under the proposal, €930 million would be invested in the production of green hydrogen, while a further 500 million would help develop other sustainable technologies driving the transition towards a green economy.

Artificial intelligence research would get €250 million to help transform Germany into the hotspot for AI. A further 160 million would strengthen and digitise medical technology and pharmaceutical research.


13:11 CET, 27 May: Commission announces €750 billion recovery fund

EU is to come up with a €750 billion recovery plan in "targeted reinforcements" to its long-term budget for 2021-2027. The fund will bring the total financial firepower of the EU budget to €1.85 trillion.

The proposal will be based on a €500 billion recovery plan announced by Germany and France last week.


09:15 CET, 27 May: Spend more on innovation projects across EU regions, lobby groups urge

Nine European regions and innovation stakeholders yesterday issued a joint statement calling for the next EU budget to include money for innovation in multi-regional Cohesion programmes.

The commission’s 2018 long-term budget proposal designated €970 million for financing innovation projects involving more than one region under Cohesion programmes, and the groups want the fund to remain in the upcoming budget.

Their statement says the so-called Interregional Innovation Investment instrument could “unleash the innovation potential available in Europe’s regions for Europe’s recovery”,  thus shortening and strengthening supply chains across the continent.

The statement was signed by the European Organisation of Research and Technology Organisations, the Vanguard Initiative, the European Regions Research and Innovation Network, the Assembly of European Regions, Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, the European Network of Living Labs, the Eurotech Universities Alliance, the Universities of Applied Sciences for Europe, and the European Clusters Alliance.


16:10 CET, 26 May: EU defence chief fears research will be squeezed by COVID-19

The European Defence Fund could be a big casualty of the coronavirus crisis, with concerns that it will see a deep cut from €13 billion to around €6 billion. 

This fund, announced with great fanfare two years ago, is requiring member states to work together on designing and building tanks, ships and other new technologies. But the costly effort by governments to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic will leave less money for defence in the coming years, and require greater cooperation than before among member states, says the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) new chief executive.

Jiří Šedivý, who took up his post at the start of this month, says, “Chances are high that COVID-19 will lead to cuts in national defence spending. The best response to shrinking national budgets for defence research is to join forces and resources and to engage in more cost-effective collaborations at EU level.”


15:12 CET, 26 May: Next EU budget should boost investment in climate and digital technologies, says industry association

Europe's largest business association says the EU should target its upcoming multiannual budget towards investments in energy, environment, digital and climate technologies.

"In terms of the Commission’s long-term budget, investment in energy, environment, digital and climate technologies are key, while at the same time we must foster strategic value chains and support crucial industrial ecosystems, as they will play a central role in re-launching and modernising Europe’s economy," said BusinessEurope director general Markus Beyrer.


13:34 CET, 26 May: 'Friends of ERC' call on EU leaders to safeguard budget for blue-sky research

In an open letter to European leaders, research heavyweights call for the EU to at least maintain, if not increase, funding levels for the European Research Council (ERC).

The signatories, organised under the banner of "Friends of ERC" , fear cuts across all areas of Horizon Europe in the EU's proposal for the 2021-2027 multiannual budget and  anticipate that a potential budget shave would also impact the ERC.

"Protecting and improving the ERC budget will secure continued investments in research that pushes the boundaries of our knowledge and continues to strongly support Europe as a dynamic knowledge society," the letter says. 

An online petition to show the widespread support for the ERC has gathered over 6,500 signatures. 


11:30 CET, 26 May: More investment in technology needed to make food production greener, says biotech lobby

Europe’s largest biotech association says the new strategies for food sustainability and biodiversity published today by the European Commission should “embrace” innovation.

The commission has published the first details on its ‘Farm to Fork’ and ‘Biodiversity’ strategies, two major policies that are part of a broader effort by the EU to push the economy towards a greener, more sustainable paradigm.

According to EuropaBio, some of the targets set out in these two strategies risk making European agriculture less productive, without the help of innovations in biotechnology and bio-based products.  

Agnes Borg, industrial biotechnology director of EuropaBio said Europe could help the food sector reduce its impact on the environment while maintaining agricultural productivity.

“By ensuring a science-based, proportionate, and predictable regulatory approach to biotechnology innovation, including new genomic techniques, the EU would also contribute to ensuring that the best tools are available to help effectively realize the ambitious Green Deal objectives,” said Borg.


11:25 CET, 26 May: EARTO says crisis recovery plan should make use of EU research and innovation capabilities

The European Commission’s economic recovery package should include a strong support mechanism for public and private R&D investments, according to the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO).

Research organisations are calling on the EU to make sure that research grants play important role in the recovery package. In addition, the EU should safeguard its technology leadership and production sovereignty by developing a European strategy on technology infrastructures needed by key EU industrial ecosystems, EARTO says in a policy paper.



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