As the EU member states seek an agreement on the overall financial envelope for EU programmes for the next seven years, Brussels will also be busy this autumn discussing the next annual EU budget for 2020.
At the beginning of the summer, the EU Council adopted its position on the draft budget proposed by the European Commission. The European Parliament is now examining the budget and preparing a resolution for mid-October, ahead of negotiations that are expected to be difficult.
Indeed, the Council severely undermined EU ambitions in the field of research and innovation for next year, cutting more than 400 million euros (in commitments) from Horizon 2020. While the proposed amount would still technically represent an increase compared to the 2019 funds for the programme, EUA strongly disagrees with the decision for several reasons:
- It goes directly against the declared strategic goals of the EU and the recognition of the positive impact of the EU's policy on research and innovation in the competitiveness of the EU economy.
- It brings back the budget to its base level after the massive cuts connected to the financing of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (2.2 billion euros had been removed from Horizon 2020 in 2015 to resource the guarantee fund for EFSI), despite an agreement between the EU institutions to try and compensate these cuts.
- It affects highly successful parts of the Horizon 2020 programme, and in particular the European Research Council (taking more than one quarter of the proposed cut, that is to say a decrease of 118,500,000 euros). EUA has consistently underlined the importance of protecting and further increasing the budget dedicated to basic science at European level.
- This will further aggravate the underfunding issue for Horizon 2020, leading to extremely low success rates, a waste of resources and low motivation for excellent researchers to take part.
- The decision sends a negative and indeed highly worrying signal to the scientific community as to the commitment of EU members states to research and innovation at a critical stage of the discussions on the future financial plan of the European Union for the next seven years.
Therefore, EUA supports the European Parliament in its efforts to reverse these cuts and push forward a budget in line with the proposals of the European Commission, so as to connect means with ambitions.
EUA and its partners continue to support a more ambitious approach to EU investment in education, research and innovation for the post-2020 period and are calling the wider community to sign up to the joint call “Seize our common future #EUInvestinKnowledge”. We count on the European Parliament to defend a significant increase for Horizon Europe to a minimum of 120 billion euros to demonstrate that Europe’s leadership can rise to the challenges ahead and send the right signal to boost the public and private R&I investment in Europe.
This communication was first published 19 September 2019 by the European University Association.