FP10 should advance research excellence, stronger security and key technologies, Berlin says

23 May 2024 | News

German government spells out its priorities for next research Framework Programme, in paper delivered today to Brussels

Bettina Stark-Watzinger, German Minister of Education and Research. Photo: BMBF / Hans-Joachim Rickel

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The German federal government has published its discussion paper for the preparation of the EU’s 10th framework programme for research and innovation (FP10), the successor to Horizon Europe. State secretary Sabine Döring will hand it over in Brussels on Thursday.

The aim is to emphasise the great importance of a powerful and adaptable research and innovation system for Europe in order to master global challenges and recent crises and to shape social transformation processes based on knowledge.

Research and innovation are the key to maintaining and strengthening Europe's competitiveness, science minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger told Table.Briefings. "Because we need targeted funding for critical key technologies in particular. At the same time, excellent research that is open to all topics and technologies remains indispensable as the basis for forward-looking innovations," she said.

In the current geopolitical situation, European cooperation in research and innovation is more important than ever to strengthen Europe's competitiveness and security, according to the paper. FP10 should place a clear focus on strengthening basic research, promoting key technologies and accelerating transfer.

In line with the principle of subsidiarity, FP10 should only include measures whose implementation offers significant European added value. The programme is not a substitute for national efforts. Achieving the EU target of spending 3% of GDP on R&D remains essential.

In view of Germany’s Zeitenwende – a shift towards greater military spending and security considerations following the Russian invasion of Ukraine - and the increasing geopolitical tensions associated with hybrid threats, attacks on critical infrastructure, and the rise of extremism, FP10 should leverage the R&I potential for strengthening European security even more effectively.

In order to take a holistic approach to security, civil and military research must be promoted in a complementary manner. The aim is to realise synergies between military and civilian research. The coexistence of FP10 and purely military research remains important, the discussion paper says.

Better coordination, more cooperation

A research and innovation approach that is open to all topics and technologies is indispensable for developing resilience to unforeseen future challenges, the ministry argues.

These points, among others, are emphasised and called for in the paper:

  • Maintaining, strengthening and disseminating excellence as a fundamental evaluation criterion
  • Funding opportunities open to all technologies and topics in all research areas and along the entire innovation chain
  • Targeted funding of critical key technologies and strengthening of European security through complementary funding and synergies between civil and military research
  • The bundling of research and innovation funding through strategic priority topic management, known as “portfolio management"
  • Better accessibility and clarity of the programme as well as simplification and acceleration of administrative processes
  • Increased contributions to the implementation of the European Research Area and better coordination of national and European funding policy
  • Openness as a principle of international research and innovation cooperation while at the same time strengthening resource and technology sovereignty in critical areas and strategically expanding cooperation with countries outside the EU

Work on the successor to the ninth EU research framework programme Horizon Europe, which runs until 2027, began in 2023. A year ago, the European Commission published the results of a consultation on FP10. This included an appeal from the research community to expand the programme with a clear vision and a balanced relationship between basic and applied science.

A working group has already been set up within the European Commission to bring together directorates-general related to research, including health, transport and digital. The Commission is collecting position papers, data and analyses for the interim evaluation of Horizon Europe, which will be finalised and published in early 2025.

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