Ehler calls for a united front to deliver a strong budget for the next EU research programme

16 Nov 2023 | News

MEP draws on parliament’s success in securing an extra €85M for research in 2024, asking stakeholders to make a bigger budget for Framework programme 10 a priority in their national campaigns for the 2024 European elections

MEP Christian Ehler. Photo: Christian Creutz / European Union

Christian Ehler MEP is calling on research stakeholders across the EU to unite in the fight for a strong budget for Framework programme 10 (FP10), as MEPs celebrate clawing back an extra €80 million for Horizon Europe in 2024.

In an email sent to key stakeholders, Ehler drew on the momentum of last week’s 2024 budget deal to call for a united stance on a bigger budget for FP10.

In the negotiations for next year’s EU budget, the Parliament defended the current Horizon Europe research programme from a proposed €166 million cut and convinced member states to put an extra €80 million in the budget.

This brings to €415 million the amount Parliament has extracted in the annual budget fight with member states since 2020.

But, as Ehler noted in his message, the annual battle over funding reveals how fragile the Horizon Europe budget is, with the ritual negotiations to protect it requiring substantial effort in the Parliament.

As negotiations for the EU’s next seven year Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) loom into view, he wants stakeholders to fight for FP10 to be put on a financial footing that will enable it to weather these annual storms. “We need to recognise this going into the next MFF negotiations,” the message said. “We need all national research stakeholders to make the FP10 budget a priority in their national campaign for the European elections.”

Ehler, alongside other MEPs, is calling for the budget to be at least €200 billion, more than double the current €95.5 billion Horizon Europe budget. However, the demand for the money is high: a European Commission report published in May this year found that Horizon Europe would have needed an extra €34 billion to fund all high-quality proposals received in 2021 to 2022.

The doubling of the budget is supported by the stakeholders in Brussels. But they’re trying to manage their expectations. “It is very good that [MEPs] start making noises about this figure now because - I don't like what I'm going to say - but it is likely that we will not get it. But I hope that we get a figure as close as possible to €200 billion,” Lidia Borrell-Damián, secretary general of Science Europe, told Science|Business in October.

This is not the first time Ehler has called on stakeholders to start lobbying now. Horizon Europe is only approaching the half-way point, but the talks on FP10 are already in full swing. In the coming weeks the Commission is expected to announce an independent expert group to draft a vision for FP10.

“Believe me, the discussion is open right now,” Ehler said, speaking at the Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) event in October.

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