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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The European Parliament and the EU Council today reached an agreement on setting up the European Cybersecrity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre that will aim to secure EU’s digital single market.
The new centre, located in Bucharest, Romania, will be funded by the EU’s research and digital programmes, Horizon Europe and Digital Europe.
Together with a network of national coordination centres, it will promote the deployment of cybersecurity solutions and coordinate research, technology, and industrial development at least until 31 December 2029.
The European Parliament and the EU Council this morning reached a deal on the final details of the EU’s next €84.9 billion (at 2018 prices) research programme, Horizon Europe.
The agreement means Horizon Europe will be able to start without delay, on 1 January 2021, said the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the programme, Christian Ehler.
The final agreement has not been made public yet and it is unclear how policymakers decided to spread the €4 billion top-up added to the programme in November. However, the parliament’s centre-right group has signalled Horizon Europe will now “include an additional €1 billion for the European Research Council.”
The agreement will now have to be endorsed by the parliament and the council after the EU’s overall budget for the next seven years is formally adopted.
The European Innovation Council (EIC) has selected 18 research and innovation projects advancing the EU’s green and digital transition goals to receive €74 million in its latest funding round.
Selected from 236 submissions, the projects will test social applications of AI, search for breakthroughs in green energy storage and conversion, test new approaches to nano- and sub-nano technology, develop wireless wearable self-powered sensors urban environment monitoring and produce self-deployable, biodegradable robots that analyse air and topsoil parameters.
Most of the grantees are teams working in universities and research organisations, while 18 per cent are SMEs, with the highest number of grantees coming from Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.
The EU Council yesterday selected Bucharest, the capital of Romania, as the new home of the European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre, which will pool investments and coordinate cybersecurity research and innovation in the EU.
The European Parliament and the council are still hashing out the final details on how the centre will be run, with the next, and likely final, round of negotiations scheduled on 11 December.
The European Intergovernmental Research Organisation forum (EIROForum), an association of eight of Europe’s largest research organisations, is urging EU policymakers to invest more in research infrastructures ahead of the next round of negotiations on the final details of Horizon Europe.
The group wants part of the €4 billion Horizon Europe top-up, added to the programme in November following intense negotiations, to be directed to supporting research infrastructures.
“Given their unique potential for science and innovation, combined with their structural role in building a more competitive, open and collaborative Europe, we argue that European RIs (research infrastructures) deserve prominent consideration within Horizon Europe,” the association’s statement says.
In November, Germany’s research minister Anja Karlizcek signalled the next round of Horizon Europe negotiations, scheduled to take place on 10 December, may be final, with policymakers agreeing on how the extra €4 billion will be spread across the different parts of the EU’s next research programme.
The European Research Council (ERC), the EU’s basic research funding body, today announced the 327 winners of its €655 million funding round for mid-career researchers.
The winners, of which a record 37 per cent are female, will receive up to €2 million each to form teams and carry out research on topics such as antibiotic resistance on a molecular level, why smaller species develop faster, and the transnational history of Romanian literature.
The grantees from 40 different countries will carry out their research in 23 European countries, with 50 grants going to researchers in Germany, 50 in the UK, 34 in France and 29 in Netherlands. For the first time ever, the award will also fund a project based in Ukraine.
The ERC received total of 2506 proposals and selected 13 per cent of them for funding. It is estimated the grants will create over 2000 jobs for postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and other staff.
Germany yesterday selected thirteen joint research projects with Ukrainian researchers as part of a new €11.3 million funding programme aimed at strengthening research in the EU neighbourhood country.
Thirteen proof of concept projects will be funded for twelve months after which four to five projects will be selected to continue their work in a four-year implementation phase.
The programme intends to enable Ukrainian scientists working abroad to carry out their research in their home country by modernising its science ecosystem and creating favourable working conditions.
EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel today signed an agreement on marine research and innovation cooperation with Morocco.
The document outlines common objectives and areas of cooperation in marine research which will help develop human capital, research training and facilitate scientific exchange as part of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance launched in 2017.
Seventeen EU member states yesterday agreed to cooperate on bolstering Europe’s electronics and embedded systems value chain.
The collaboration will strengthen Europe’s capacity to design and produce next generation processors, which underpin key technologies such as automated cars, medical equipment, AI and mobile phones, therefore helping ensure Europe’s technology sovereignty and competitiveness.
In practice, the hope is to integrate national research and investment plans to make them work more effectively. This will largely build on upcoming Horizon Europe public-private partnerships, such as Key Digital Technologies, the partnership for electronic and photonic component innovation, and the €8 billion EuroHPC partnership that aims to build high-performance computing capacities in Europe, as well as the existing European Processor Initiative, an EU project designing and implementing a roadmap for low-power European processors, and the Important Project of Common European Interest on microelectronics that allows member states to jointly support transnational cooperation projects.
The member states hope to increase investment along the entire value chain, finding resources in the EU’s €750 billion recovery fund and other funding instruments. With 20 per cent of the emergency budget designated to digital transition, up to €145 billion could be invested in processors and semiconductors in the next two to three years.
The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science hub, Friday launched an observatory for tracking the health of EU soils.
The new observatory will expand the JRC’s soil data collection capacity from 25,000 locations across the EU to 250,000 by integrating member state monitoring programmes. The EU’s space programme, Copernicus, will also feed satellite images into the database, which can show the extent of vegetation, soil covers and soil loss in urban areas.
The observatory will equip scientists and innovators with the tools to analyse the genetic composition of soils, their antibiotic resistance genes, micro-plastics pollution, and pesticide and antibiotic residues among other pressing research topics.
The collected data will populate the new EU Soil Indicator Dashboard, allowing policymakers and researchers to observe the changes in soils, an often-forgotten resource that is essential to ensuring steady food supply, preserving biodiversity, and reducing pollution. This will serve as the main progress tracker for the Horizon Europe’s upcoming soils mission, a research moon-shot set to launch in 2021 that aims to make 75 per cent of EU soils healthy by 2030.
The observatory will also host the European Soil Forum, bringing together EU agencies, NGOs, farming associations, industry, member states representatives, international organisations, citizens, and different commission services, to address different policy and scientific questions, issue reports, and raise awareness about soil health.