HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

07 Dec 2023 | Live Blog

Horizon Europe is well underway, but the world of European R&D policy goes well beyond the confines of the €95.5 billion R&D programme. EU climate, digital, agriculture and regional policies all have significant research and innovation components. National governments often come up with new R&D policies, decide to fund new research avenues, and set up international cooperation deals. This blog aims to keep you informed on all of that and more.

If you have any tips, please email them at [email protected].

You can read the full archive of this blog here.


The US has launched a new centre bringing together datasets on greenhouse gas emissions to help scientists, officials and members of the public to delve into sources of climate change.

Launched during the COP28 climate conference in the United Arab Emirates, NASA said the US Greenhouse Gas Center would initially contain datasets on greenhouse gas emissions from human activities; natural sources and sinks of gas on land and ocean; and methane emissions.

“Built on open-source principles, the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Center’s datasets, related algorithms, and supporting code are fully open sourced. This allows anyone to test the data, algorithms, and results,” the agency said in a press release.


The EU is set to reach its target of 45% of young people in tertiary education five years early, according to a new report on education and training across the block.

In 2022, 42% of 25-34 year olds had completed some form of tertiary education, up 0.6% on the year before, according to the Education and Training Monitor 2023.

But progress is wildly divergent across the EU. In Ireland, 62.3% of young people have completed tertiary education, whereas in Romania that figure is 24.7%.

The Scientific Council of the European Research Council has issued a brief warning to researchers that using AI when writing proposals does not mean they can cut corners on checking acknowledgments, for example.

“Researchers regularly seek input from AI technologies or human third parties, for example to brainstorm or generate ideas, to search the literature, and to revise, translate or summarise text,” it said in a statement.

However, “use of external help in preparing a proposal does not relieve the author from taking full and sole authorship responsibilities with regard to acknowledgements, plagiarism and the practice of good scientific and professional conduct," the council cautioned. 

A new analysis of noncommunicable diseases in Europe has issued a series of recommendations to tackle conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease, including improving air quality.

These diseases account for 90% of deaths in the EU and take up at least a quarter of national health spending.

To tackle this burden, the Partnership for Health System Sustainability and Resilience EU Expert Advisory Group wants far more investment in prevention and early detection, for example, and better data.

Over 1.2 million students, professors and auxiliary education staff benefited from the EU’s higher education mobility programme Erasmus+ in 2022, the new annual report shows. It brings the total number of participants to 13.7 million since the programme was launched in 1987. 

The past year marked a bounceback from the COVID-impacted years in 2020 and 2021 when fewer mobilities could take place. In 2020, there were 60% fewer than the average between 2016 and 2019. Prior to the pandemic, around 1 million mobilities were funded each year. 

The Erasmus+ budget for 2021-2027 is nearly double than during the previous seven-year period at over €26.2 billion. Just over €4 billion was spent in 2022, an increase of 38% on the previous year.


Normund Popens is to take over as deputy director-general in charge of ‘Innovation, Digital Education, and International Cooperation’ and also Culture, Creativity and Sport in the European Commission’s education and culture directorate, DG EAC. 

The Latvian national will move from his current position as deputy director-general for ‘Implementation and International Relations' at the regional and urban policy directorate, DG REGIO. A precise date for this switch has not yet been specified. 

While working at DG REGIO, Popens is attributed with leading the negotiations and implementation of more than 300 Cohesion policy programmes around the EU. The EU’s Cohesion policy is made up of several funding schemes to help support regions or nations lagging in development.


Companies that receive EU research grants record on average a 20% increase in employment and 30% in total assets and revenues, according to latest European Commission study.  

The positive impact persists even after the 2.5 years that it takes, on average, to complete a Horizon project. But not all sectors reap the benefits. The biggest winners are companies that fall within ICT and professional, scientific and technical activity categories. In many other sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing and transport, the effects are negligible.  

The study analysed the performance of 40,000 companies that had received Horizon 2020 grants.  


The European Commission has announced Lisbon as the winner of the European capital of innovation Awards for 2023, with Linköping in Sweden crowned this year’s “rising innovative city”.

The Portuguese capital pipped Warsaw (Poland) and Lviv (Ukraine) to the title, while Padova (Italy) and Cork (Ireland) were runners up in the rising innovative city category. The prizes are granted under Horizon Europe.

Research and innovation Commissioner Iliana Ivanova awarded the prizes during a ceremony in Marseille. The winners are “shining examples of how cities can use innovation to reshape the urban landscape, tackle demographic and economic challenges and work for the benefit of their residents,” she said.


The German Research Foundation (DFG) has welcomed the federal government’s adoption of its national action plan for the European Research Area (ERA).

The plan represents a commitment to make the European regulatory framework more “researcher-friendly”, the DFG said.

It also provides for the creation of a German Forum for European Research and Innovation Policy, dubbed Forum.EU, to promote coherence between regional, national and European research policy.

“The planned involvement of a large number of stakeholders in Forum.EU, including the various federal and state government departments in particular, has the potential to create genuine added value,” said DFG president Katja Becker.


The latest findings from the World Health Organization's Global Observatory on Health Research and Development (R&D) have highlighted the disparities in health research funding across the world.

The observatory, which launched in 2017, recently published commentary reflecting on its first five years of existence.

Data shows that in 2020 for example just 0.2% of all grant funding for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) was allocated to institutions in low- and middle-income countries, where an estimated 7 out of 10 NCD deaths occur.

There are also disparities in terms of higher education opportunities and human resources, with high-income countries having around 56 times more health researchers per million inhabitants than low-income countries.


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