European University Association: Should the next Framework budget approach €200 billion?

These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network

The European University Association (EUA), an organisation of universities and national rectors’ conferences from 47 European countries, has called for ambitious funding – as much as €200 billion - of the next Framework Programme. They see over-subscription and geographical underrepresentation in Horizon 2020 as proof of the need for greater, strategic funding to ensure Europe remains competitive and can tackle the challenges it faces. They call for opening FP9 as a channel for the EU’s structural funds, alongside other EU funds, to achieve their policy goals.

The paper begins by highlighting universities’ role as educators and researchers, as well as defenders and practitioners of European values. They set out a case that funding for Framework Programmes have fallen behind Europe’s scientific capacity or demand — demonstrated by the oversubscription of applications to Horizon2020.

EUA then highlight the need for FP9 to mitigate the geographical disparities of participation within Horizon2020. They list these disparities as north/south, east/west, but also regionally according to the centre/periphery of development. They suggest new incentives for involving underrepresented areas/member states.       

Returning to the issue of undersupply, they calculate a funding deficit in Horizon2020 by looking at the amount of money needed to fund all applications deemed ‘excellent’. Disregarding the effects of increasing supply on demand, they calculate that Horizon 2020 would have had to have a funding of €200 billion euros, rather than the €75 billion euros allocated to it to satisfy its demand.

The paper then provides four scenarios and their implications for reducing the problems of oversubscription and geographical gaps in participation:

1.       ‘Business as usual’

Maintaining the same level of funding in Horizon2020 as for FP9 — further lowering the success rates.

2.       ‘Ring-fencing resources within the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) to finance more excellent FP9 proposals’

Making separate pot(s) of money available within ESIF to applicants who have project proposals which didn’t manage to receive FP9 funding but were deemed “excellent”, and which involve countries with low rates of participation.

3.       ‘Shifting funds from ESIF to FP9 to fund more excellent proposals’

Making a joint pot of money between FP9 and ESIF which would fund excellent proposals through FP9 but with an additional criteria of geographic diversity.

4.       ‘Mobilising other EU programmes to fund excellent proposals in FP9

Open FP9 as a tool for other in policy areas such as the Common Agricultural Policy.

From the text:

“Of particular concern is the drop for high quality proposals (above the threshold), for which success rates collapsed from 43 per cent in FP5 to 26 per cent in Horizon 2020.”

“Europe can no longer afford for three-quarters of top-ranked proposals to remain unfunded because of insufficient call budgets.”

“Naturally, proceeding on the basis of ‘business as usual’ would not deliver any substantial impact or radical solutions in the post-2020 term. Nor would it help achieve a more inclusive ERA, or boost the attractiveness of Europe as a top destination for talented researchers.”

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