Basic research and culture should have more money in Horizon Europe, European academies say

10 Oct 2019 | News

Call for bigger budgets for the European Research Council and culture-related research comes ahead of rocky budget negotiations

In a paper published today, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) says the budget for the European Research Council (ERC) in Horizon Europe should be at least double the proposed €16.6 billion for seven years, if the EU wants to continue to attract and develop the very best researchers.

Academies say the demand of the ERC’s Scientific Council for the ERC’s budget to be five per cent of the total budget of national research agencies in EU member states is “compelling”. That would provide the ERC with a budget of at least €4 billion per year.

They also want the budget for research clusters under Horizon Europe’s second pillar to be more equally spread. “We are keen to see an increase in funding for the [culture] cluster,” academies say.   

According to current plans, the second of the three pillars of Horizon Europe is likely to receive the largest share of the budget, estimated by the commission at €52.7 billion, which is nearly 58 per cent of the proposed total of €94.1 billion. The money would go to a research agenda defined by the EU in six different clusters covering health, culture, security, climate and energy, food and environment and digital, industry and space.

Academies argue Horizon Europe is too focused on pursuing business and economic opportunities and say more money should go to culture, creativity and inclusive societies.

The ALLEA paper says a higher budget would promote synergies between the clusters and boost the inter-disciplinary research and innovation the commission is hoping to achieve through Horizon Europe.

“Innovation is not limited to business and economic opportunities but it is also fundamentally about how a variety of social actors imagine things differently,” the academies say. This is an area in which the humanities and social sciences have a very strong contribution to make.

The request for larger money pots in certain parts of Horizon Europe comes ahead of negotiations on the EU’s budget for 2021-2027, which has to be agreed in the following months.

Never miss an update from Science|Business:   Newsletter sign-up