In the context of the European Parliament plenary vote on the EU budget for 2022, EUA calls on the Council to revert the proposed cuts and support the full implementation of a future-oriented Horizon Europe.
The importance of investing in research has never been clearer than during the pandemic. Publicly-funded research has made it possible to develop vaccines in record time and support the world’s societies and economies in working towards a fast recovery. The latest Nobel Prize winners, supported by the European Research Council, also remind us of the relevance and effectiveness of public support to investigator-driven research. However, the difficult negotiations around the seven-year EU budget showed that it remains difficult to convince member states to go beyond discourse and actually invest ambitiously in research and innovation.
This summer, the Council of the EU proposed to reduce the Commission’s proposal for the 2022 budget of the Horizon Europe programme by more than €300 million. This came as a major surprise for the sector, especially as the Council argued that the demand was not there for this amount of spending. However, the EU’s R&I framework programmes have consistently been known for critical underfunding, with an exceedingly high share of excellent proposals not being funded, leading to low success rates. This led the Commission to, for instance, develop the Seal of Excellence initiative.
Considering this, EUA supports the European Parliament, whose Budget Committee has proposed to reverse the cuts to Horizon Europe, and further strengthen it with an additional €305 million, acknowledging the urgency to re-invest in research and innovation at the European level.
Now is the time to align and boost the firepower of national and European investments in research and innovation. The opportunities under NextGenerationEU must further support this, rather than work as a pretext to cut funds for Horizon Europe, the main EU programme for R&I, or national budgets. The R&I community in Europe, with universities at its core, is ready to deliver the research for a sustainable future. To achieve the ambitious goals that have been set, it is crucial to have foresight. Rather than postponing or saving funding, it is time to recognise that now is the right time to invest in R&I in Europe.
This article was first published on October 14 by EUA.