HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

28 Sep 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 EU will invest €320 million in ocean research to protect marine sea life and tackle climate change issues as part of a broader package of measures announced today.

Part of that money will go towards the EU Mission ‘Restore Our Ocean and Waters by 2030’, with funds also being directed towards the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance and the Digital Twin of the Ocean project.

In total and beyond investment in research, the EU will put €816.5 million towards 39 commitments aimed at ocean management, tackling marine pollution and generally protecting the ocean’s biodiversity. 

The announcement comes as the eighth edition of the Our Ocean conference takes place in Panama.


European university network The Guild has signed the Agreement to Reforming Research Assessment to underline its commitment to a fairer system of research assessment. 

The agreement was put together by Science Europe, the European University Association, and research policy advisor Karen Stroobants with support from the European Commission. 

Jan Palmowski, secretary-general of The Guild, announced the network’s signature of the agreement on Wednesday. 

“Whether our members are signatories or not, our universities have all been deeply involved in discussions in their communities and beyond to ensure that assessment captures as best as possible research excellence and its scientific, societal, cultural or impact,” he wrote in a public post.

“This is a time when how we do our research, and what is expected of a researcher, is changing rapidly, and it's important that research assessment reflects this change.”


The Polish Chamber of Commerce for High Tech Technology (IZTECH) has published its position paper on past, present and future EU framework programmes, which it submitted to the European Commission as part of a call for feedback.

In its report, it makes several recommendations to improve Horizon Europe, highlighting for example the need to bridge the east-west innovation gap by capitalising on all EU member states.


The Italian Agency for the Promotion of European Research (APRE) has published a report it submitted to the European Commission in response to a call for public feedback on the past, present and future of its research programmes. 

The report was produced by a group of experts put together by APRE with the aim of providing feedback for the interim evaluation of Horizon Europe. It is the agency’s first contribution in its series of activities titled “Towards the Mid-Term of Horizon Europe”.


A new declaration signed today sees the European Commission, industry, scientific community and regions commit to stepping up efforts in setting up hydrogen valleys around the EU.

Hydrogen valleys are clusters where hydrogen production, transportation and applications are connected in one geographical area. The new joint declaration calls for sustainable investment, knowledge sharing and development of skills to help build up these regional hydrogen networks.

The EU hopes to double the number of these valleys by 2025 as part of its ambition to have a world-leading renewable hydrogen economy. The current goal is to produce 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU each year by 2030, making the green version of the gas a key part of EU’s energy mix.


EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel today held a meeting with the Informal Group of R&I Liaison Offices (IGLO) and urged the network to expand to more countries.  

“Today, we invite IGLO to enlarge its membership to Bulgaria, Hungary, Luxembourg, and Portugal,” said Gabriel.  

The network of 26 country liaison offices aims to enhance cooperation and information exchange between their representatives in Brussels, their national research systems and European institutions on EU’s research, innovation and education policy.  


The Leibniz Association calls on the European Commission to recycle unspent Horizon Europe money and roll it back in the research budget.

In a paper submitted to the European Commission survey on EU research programmes which ended last week, the association argues the unspent funds should not be returned to member states.

The European Parliament and the Council have been arguing about this issue for the past few years. While MEPs and the Commission want the committed funds to be kept inside the Horizon Europe budget, member states insist that money should return to national coffers.  

The Leibniz Association also calls on the Commission to avoid diverting Horizon money from established research areas to other emerging programmes, such as the Chips Act and the New European Bauhaus.

The paper also calls for additional funding for the European Research Council and a better balance between basic and applied science.

The full paper is available here.


Preconditions needed for the European Research Council (ERC) to introduce lump sum funding to its Advanced grants for experienced researchers starting in 2024 have been met, according to a decision taken by the ERC Scientific Council last week.

The move was first announced by the ERC in June last year. However, at the time, the Scientific Council said piloting the new form of financial disbursement should not affect the autonomy of the principal investigator in managing their grants. The Council also wanted to make sure that there will be not explicit “deliverables” or milestones to be reached that could undermine scientific excellence by preventing researchers from acting upon unexpected findings.

According to an ERC spokesman, the Scientific Council has confirmed that both preconditions have been met and the pilot can move forward.

Currently, ERC grants are distributed based on the real cost of the projects, a process which involves a complicated accounting process. The European Commission argues a new lump sum system would lift the burden of financial reporting, while researchers will be paid on the basis of activities carried out.


The Coimbra Group, an association of 41 European universities, has submitted its position paper to the European Commission in response to a call for public feedback on the past, present and future of its research programmes. 

The association highlights positive aspects of previous and current framework programmes, as well as pointing out several challenges and offering recommendations for improvements. It looks at debatable issues such as the use of lump sum funding, the Missions aspect of the programme, and more broader diversity issues within the research sector. 

In a look ahead to the 10th framework programme, which is due to kick off in 2028, the association offers four principle suggestions:

  1. Simplicity and better synergies with other funding sources
  2. Improved accessibility and Inclusiveness
  3. More Transparency and participation in the design process
  4. Increased budget

Read the full paper here


A conference on the use of innovative technologies to support Schengen area migration management will be held on 28 March, bringing together industry representatives with those from the European Commission, Frontex and Europol.

The conference’s goal, aside from fostering dialogue between policymakers and those in the technology sector, is for companies to showcase their innovative solutions aimed at tackling illegal migration.

More information about the conference can be found here.


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