LIVE BLOG: Reactions to Horizon Europe

17 Dec 2018 | News

Latest: Geographical quotas in Horizon Europe will not bridge the innovation gap, excellence comes first, says ScienceEurope

In June, the European Commission announced plans for its next big research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe. It proposed €94.1 billion over seven years, starting in 2021, plus a range of related programmes in digital innovation, innovation finance and regional development. It divides the budget into three main areas, open science, global challenges/industrial competitiveness, and open innovation. Debate on the plan will continue for months.

Here, Science|Business presents a rolling summary of comments from various interest groups. If your organisation has a formal position, email us at [email protected].

17 December: Geographical quotas in Horizon Europe will not bridge the innovation gap, excellence comes first, says ScienceEurope

According to a reaction paper published by ScienceEurope, the EU's next research and innovation programme "must provide increased support to excellent fundamental research and include fundamental research activities in all parts of the programme. This is essential to keep or attract the best brains in Europe, develop knowledge and provide answers to current and future questions, and pave the way for tomorrow’s innovation."

"The divide in Research Development and Innovation (RDI) must be tackled via targeted measures, at EU and national level, to foster scientific excellence and strengthen RDI capacities across the EU. Excellence must therefore drive all parts of programme. The introduction of geographical considerations for the setting up of consortium or the evaluation of projects will not contribute to reducing the RDI divide in a structural manner."

Full statement

7 December: LERU sketches to-do list for Horizon Europe negotiations ahead

The League of European Research Universities (LERU), once again calls upon EU institutions to allocate more money for Horizon Europe and make sure the innovation gap is not bridged at the expense of excellence.

LERU hopes that "a joint position of EP and Council (even if not formally adopted) will be reached before the European elections in May 2019. Such a joint position is in the clear interest of the entire European research and innovation sector because it would allow the European Commission to start its preparation for the implementation of Horizon Europe as soon as possible and it would avoid a funding gap between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe."

Full statement

5 December: European academies call for bigger role of social sciences and less focus on economic impact in Horizon Europe

The All European Academies association (ALLEA) has published a paper that warns of the dangers of focusing Horizon Europe on the economic impact of research alone. Such an approach could foster “a technocratic paradigm in which the translation of fundamental research into innovative ‘products’ is seen as the benchmark of success," ALLEA says. 

ALLEA calls for more interdisciplinarity and a bigger and well-defined role of social science and humanities in the design and evaluation of the research funded through Horizon Europe. 

Full statement

5 December: Europe's top scientists and CEOs call for €120 billion budget

"We urge European leaders to make sure that the next EU financial framework guarantees an appropriately ambitious Research and Innovation budget of €120 billion as a bare minimum. Now that Europe is back on track with its goal of becoming a knowledgebased, sustainable and inclusive society, it must devote even more attention and resources to ensure the basis of its future economic growth and societal development."

Full statement

5 December: CESAER lists recommendations for Horizon Europe Council negotiations

The universities of Science and Technology (S&T) united within CESAER call upon the European institutions to ensure Horizon Europe achieves its maximum impact by implementing the following overall recommendations:

  • Excellence should remain the guiding criterion for selection of projects
  • Ensure sufficient Budget for Priority 1 ‘Excellent and Open Science’
  • Implement Fast Track to Research and Innovation Actions (RIA)
  • Adequate funding allocation within European Innovation Council (EIC)

Full statement

1 October: Call for 'proper balance' between basic and applied research

The International Society for Stem Cell Research say the Commission’s proposal for Horizon Europe does not achieve the proper balance between basic and applied research; we support the amendments offered by Rapporteurs Christian Ehler and Dan Nica that seek to improve the balance.

Full statement

1 October: Call for larger role of SMEs in Horizon Europe

European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises strongly recommends a 20 per cent target for the participation of SMEs in Horizon Europe (including start-ups) in order to motivate the Commission to ensure calls which are also designed for SMEs, to advertise the programme towards SMEs (as currently the SME Instrument) and to ensure that the participation of SMEs is documented.

Full statement

17 September: Innovative universities call for broader role in Horizon Europe

"Europe must consider universities as enablers for innovation-led growth and social innovation. Universities must be included in the core of the EU innovation policies," according to the European Consortium of Innovative Universities.

Full statement

5 September: Basic science needs more funding, doctoral students say

The European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc) reiterate its call to double the budget of Marie Curie actions from €6.2 to €12.4 billion and for ERC from €13.1 to €26.2 billion in Horizon Europe.

"We also welcome an increase for the Research Infrastructures from €2.4 to €3.9 billion, but note a lack of clarity in proposals on the European pen Science Cloud (EOSC), and call for explicit reference to the role and budget of EOSC in Horizon Europe."

Full statement

5 September: Research-intensive universities against geographical criteria in ERC grants evaluation

The Guild of Research-Intensive Universities says maintaining scientific excellence as the sole evaluation criterion for the ERC is of utmost importance. "We oppose [MEP] Dan Nica’s proposal to change this," the Guild says.

"The Guild is also against limiting the focus of the ERC to young researchers, as the programme should be open to the best scientific talent regardless of their age or the stage of their career. We also call for the ERC Proof of Concept grants to be reserved for ERC grantees, to maximise the impact of the breakthrough scientific knowledge produced with the support of the ERC."

Full statement

5 September: IoT alliance lists potential research missions

According to a position paper by the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI), the European Commission should introduce "regulatory and policy initiatives to stimulate the intro of new technologies or the phasing out of older ones, while supporting cybersecurity drive. Also, "mission programmes should create sustainable platforms that can continue to progress on the route to market beyond the public funding stage."

AIOTI suggests that research missions built around IoT technologies could enable:

  • Large-scale, seasonal energy storage (“Power-to-X“) to become a commercially viable alternative to fossil-based backup power generation by 2022.
  • Secure, privacy-protecting, and trusted digital infrastructures for European companies, public organisations, and citizens in place by 2027. 
  • Integrated transport systems with self-driving, emission-free vehicle solutions reducing vehicle congestion by 60% across Europe by 2030.
  • Fully flexible manufacturing based on cyber-physical production systems realised across several industry verticals by 2027.

The full list of recommendations is available here

29 August: Research infrastructures need more money, says Helmholtz Association

An adequate level of funding and a more efficient coordination is needed for Europe to continue developing its world leadership in the area of Research Infrastructures (RI) and fully exploit the innovation potential of many research areas, according to a statement by the Helmholtz Association in Germany. 

Helmholtz urges the Commission to increase the budget for RI to at least €5 billion, reduce the fragmentation of RI in Europe and ensure their world-leadership through and implement a common funding approach of standardised trans-national access to offer support and access researchers who do not have access to RI or have fewer resources. 

Full statement

28 August: Chemists support excellence criteria

The European Chemical Society, EuChemS welcomes the proposal for Horizon Europe but disagrees with a report by MEP Dan Nica that would diminish the role of excellence criteria in the evaluation of ERC proposals.

"Removing ‘excellence’ as suggested by MEP Dan Nica’s report would effectively undermine the raison d’être for researchers’ motivations in applying for European funding, and with it, the ambition, competitiveness and quality of research proposals," EuChemS said in a statement.

EuChemS also advocating for a much bigger budget fro Horizon Europe. "In order to unlock the full potential of Horizon Europe, a budget of at least €160 billion is needed. Whilst we welcome the European Parliament’s increased proposal of €120 billion, it remains only an unassertive step forward from the European Commission’s initial figure," the statement reads.

Full statement

24 July: Call for improving gender equality in research and innovation 

A consortium or universities, science foundations and government organisations, called Gender Action, has published a series of policy briefs on gender equality in European research and innovation. The documents call for a greater prominence of gender equality issues in the negotiations for Horizon Europe.

"We are firmly convinced that gender equality policies and the gender dimension in research and innovation are crucial for the future Framework Programme and should be adequately reflected and integrated in the official documents as well as in further discussion, dissemination and visibility."

The Gender Action policy briefs are available here

19 July: Germany calls for greater role of member states in Horizon Europe negotiations

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) says member states should have a key role in the strategic planning process and the implementation of Horizon Europe.

The European Commission has announced that it will initiate a Strategic Planning Process involving all EU member states, the European Parliament and research and innovation stakeholders to run parallel to the Council negotiations. 

"Germany demands that member states are the key players in this process," the ministry says. 

The full statement, which is available here, comes shortly after EU research ministers demanded a more detailed proposal and more control over planning the programme.

19 July: Bigger budget increase needed for ERC and Marie Curie, ACM says

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) appreciates that Horizon Europe will provide the ERC with significant additional funds over its Horizon 2020 budget, but notes that its proposed share of all Horizon Europe funds will remain at just 17 per cent. We respectfully submit that such de facto flat funding is unwise and counterproductive. As the discussion of such allocations moves to the European Parliament, we urge the Commission to invest more heavily in this proven program that has paid such handsome dividends to date. Also, ACM is concerned that the very modest increase in funding currently allocated to the popular and successful Marie Skłowdowska Curie research fellowship program will be insufficient.

Full statement

18 July: Working group of EU-Liasion officers calls for more research on democracy and society

ROSE, a newly established working group of German EU-Liasion officers says that Horizon Europe should help strengthening the role of research on societies in national research landscapes and the European Research Area. ROSE argues that Horizon Europe should help strengthening the European Idea, measurable through increased participation of citizens in the European Parliament elections by 2039 to an overall European level of over 60 per cent, reducing the average unemployment rate among adolescents and young adults in Europe to below 10 per cent by 2035 through comprehensive research on new, not only technology-driven solutions for the labour market, and reducing the number of people (young people and adults) with difficulties in literacy and numeracy across Europe to less than 15 per cent of the total population by 2035.

Full statement

18 July: Strengthen citizen involvement and public engagement in Horizon Europe

EUSEA is concerned that the EU’s next framework programme for research and innovation will not sufficiently address the needs to involve and engage citizens and civil society in European research and innovation. We therefore encourage EUSEA members and other organisations in the European Union to get in touch with your national governments and members of the European parliament to express your concerns and urge policy makers to act to make Horizon Europe a more citizen oriented programme.

Full statement

16 July: A plea for an SME Instrument in Horizon Europe

A consortium of Italy’s organisations calls for maintaining a funding scheme dedicated to Micro, Small and Medium-size Enterprises in Horizon Europe, built on the model of the SME Instrument under Horizon 2020. The promoters’ consortium brings together APRE, the Italian Agency for the Promotion of European Research, and six Italy’s organisations and associations representing micro, small and medium-size enterprises: Confindustria, Confcommercio, Confartigianato, Unioncamere, CNA and Confapi.

Full statement

16 July: Horizon Europe proposal 'needs further work', says BusinessEurope

BusinessEurope urges the Commission to increase the budget for Horizon Europe to at least €120 billion and allocate a larger share of the budget to the second pillar (i.e. at least 60 per cent). It should also ensure sufficient budget and space for Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) across the whole second pillar, secure an effective new partnerships landscape, using industry’s expertise and current well-functioning partnerships as benchmarks and gradually implement missions using the full width of the programme.

Full statement

13 July: Health research is headed towards 'underfunded future', says European Brain Council

The European Brain Council is highly concerned about the budget of €7.7 billion provisionally allocated to the “health” cluster under Pillar II. This amount is not commensurate with the total budget increase and will clearly be insufficient to effectively address the societal challenges associated with health research. Moreover, this budget confirms a steady decrease of funding over time and across Framework Programmes, as health was previously allocated 12 per cent under the 7th Framework Programme, 10 per cent under Horizon 2020 and now 8 per cent in the Horizon Europe proposal. For continued success in European research, we find it imperative that this downward trend is stopped and reverted.

Full statement

12 July: Business Finland calls for larger budget and better balance between research and innovation

Business Finland fully supports European Parliament’s goal to increase the Horizon Europe’s budget to at least 120 billion euros. Only with a sufficient budget can Horizon Europe match up to its ambitions to solve cross-border societal challenges by financing European collaboration in ambitious research and innovation and providing significantly enhanced support for European innovations.

Another important issue with the proposed budget is the lack of balance between research and innovation, as the proposal is still heavily focused on research. This issue can be solved with dedicated efforts to support innovation and commercialisation of research results and innovative products and services.

Full statement

12 July: French innovation consultants call for more transparent project evaluation under Horizon Europe

The French Association of Innovation Consultants (ACI) have published a list of suggestions for improving the Commission's Horizon Europe proposal. The consultants urge the Commission to improve the participation of SMEs in the programme, to make project evaluation more transparent and to promote non-technical innovations. 

Their proposal is available here

11 July: EuroScience, ISE joint petition calls for 160 billion budget

We, the undersigned scientists, concerned citizens, innovators welcome the general structure and ambition of the proposal for an increased European Research and Innovation budget – a significant increase in a difficult situation. However, we believe that it falls short of the effort required of Europe to face the growing geopolitical challenges as well as the very high level of competition now set notably by Asian countries: gross domestic spending on R&D in the EU in percentage of GDP, which is below 2% and lags behind Korea (4.2%) Japan (3.1%), USA (2.7%), China (3.3%). There is a serious danger that the situation will force many promising young scientists to leave Europe, and that Europe will become less attractive for foreign scientists.

We urge the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission to create the needed step change in budgetary commitment for Research and Innovation, by moving from the current €100 billion target proposed for the next 7-year Financial Framework period to 160 billion.

Sign the petition on

Full statement

9 July: European Academies call for clear and inclusive definition of ‘associated countries’

ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities shares the concerns raised by other stakeholders and calls for a clear and inclusive definition of associated countries. In the current form, the Regulation is not clear enough on whether third countries (e.g. Switzerland) will have opportunities to participate in the same way that worked successfully in Horizon 2020. ALLEA strongly believes in the openness of science and supports the idea of an integrated European Research Area that is open to global research collaboration.

Full statement

9 July: Italy's research and innovation organisations send recommendations to Parliament and Council

The Italian Agency for the Promotion of European Research APRE has brought to the attention of the European Parliament and the Council a first set of recommendations for Horizon Europe. APRE:

  • asks the co-legislators to scale-up the Horizon Europe overall budget to at least €120 billion;
  •  invites the co-legislators to carefully consider and revise the internal division of Horizon Europe budget;
  • calls on the co-legislators  to reintroduce under pillar 1 a funding scheme dedicated to collaborative frontier research, built on the model of the FET programme;
  • asks the co-legislators to strongly promote a greater definition of both the regulation and decision texts;
  • invites the co-legislators to pay due attention to the process of rationalisation of partnerships;
  • invites the co-legislators to promote in the legal texts a further consolidation of the criteria for selecting the missions;
  • calls on the co-legislators to reintroduce a funding scheme dedicated to innovative SMEs, built on the model of the Horizon 2020’s SME Instrument.

Full statement

9 July: Horizon Europe proposal looks 'promising', say bio-based industries 

Inherently renewable, the bioeconomy helps Europe reach many of its strategic priorities. Horizon Europe is investing in a future Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) wants and we look forward to continue collaborating with the European Institutions on creating a circular bioeconomy. However, it is important that the “new generation of European Partnerships” sets out the right framework for a possible continuation of a BBI JU under this new programme.

Full statement

6 July: European network of science centres and museums files amendments to Horizon Europe proposal

The European network of science centres and museums (Ecsite) says that contrary to Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe does not have a Science for and with Society (SwafS) specific strand. This presents the highly feasible risk of seeing science engagement reduced to top down communication done with outdated modes of science engagement and without the contribution of professional mediators. It also means that no research on science engagement would be done, while the current societal issues (such as fake news, fear of new technologies, pseudoscience) clearly demonstrate that society is changing rapidly and that science engagement needs to keep up with those changes.

Ecsite recommends that the European Commission devises a specific strand on SwafS that will notably aim at combating post-truth, engage in an appropriate manner young people and adults with science, technology and innovation, ensure gender equality and bring new governance approaches.

The proposed amendments are available here.

4 July: Universities file amendments to Horizon Europe proposal

University associations have submitted amendments to the European Commission's proposal on Horizon Europe, calling once again for an increase of the total budget and a review of the budget allocation. The amendments underline the need of realising the European Research Area and of fostering stronger linkages between research, innovation and education. Another key element for turning Horizon Europe into a success is the inclusion of human and societal reflections throughout the programme. The proposed amendments regarding the rules for participation primarily aim at clarifying necessary provisions and at improving the efficiency of the programme management.

The proposed amendments are available here

3 July: Call to boost access to effective and affordable health innovations

Despite numerous political statements and recommendations of the European Parliament and the Council to find alternative and sustainable R&I models that would guarantee better health outcomes for everyone, the Commission proposal on Horizon Europe fails to include concrete safeguards that would help to maximise public return on investments for publicly funded R&I and address public health needs. The new framework also rolls back EU commitments on the fight against poverty-related and neglected diseases which suffer from a lack of private sector interest to invest in R&I.

Full statement

3 July: Civil society calls for independent pillar for social challenges

Public investments must generate public returns. Publically funded R&I should thus balance its focus between scientific excellence, economic and societal impact. Industry is a key partner also in delivering societal impact, but merging and blurring profit-oriented objectives with societal impact-oriented objectives risks limiting the already-scarce funding available for addressing societal challenges, endangers a needs-based R&I agenda, threatens the traceability of public funding needed to monitor public return on public investments and risks further excluding citizens and civil society from R&I.

Full statement

3 July: Marie Curie cuts 'extremely unwelcome', says Austrian Institute of Science and Technology

Even if the EUR 16.6 billion earmarked for the European Research Council (ERC) were acceptable at first glance, the cuts in funding to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions would stand out as an extremely unwelcome change. These cuts would have negative consequences for the whole of research: a peak cannot rise from a weak foundation. In view of the success of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions in Horizon 2020, the cuts in this area are incomprehensible. This error should be corrected, and Austria should advocate for this correction.

Full statement

2 July: University medical centres ask for a larger share of the budget

The Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centers (NFU) commends the European Commission on the effort that has been made to design Horizon Europe. But, in order to achieve both the new ambitious goals the Commission has set out, including the missions and the proved conventional goals, NFU urges the Commission to: 

  • in Pillar 1, increase the proportional budget to provide the necessary resources to invest in frontier-led research in all areas including ‘Health’;

  • in Pillar 2, increase the proportional budget as well as a substantial redistribution of resources between clusters, acknowledging Health being of paramount importance to Europe’s citizens;

Full statement

29 June: Petition: Horizon Europe needs pillar for science with and for society

There is an urgent need to strengthen funding for the interaction between science and society, but the EU's proposal for Horizon Europe, does not foresee a programme dedicated to Science with and for Society. Therefore, we are calling on the international science community to join forces and sign a petition to ensure funding for a specific programme dedicated to science, society and citizens' initiatives. 

Full statement

28 June: EARTO wants at least €120 billion

The association of European Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) argues that the proposal needs to be strengthened, while the budget should be scaled up to “at least €120 billion” EARTO said in a statement.

Research and technology organisations urge the Commission to revise its proposal to:

  • Reinforce excellent cross-border multi-disciplinary collaborative applied RD&I by strengthening the budget share of HEU Pillar II to 60% of the total HEU budget
  • Promote European Industries’ competitiveness as key objective for HEU, especially in the clusters of Pillar II
  • Strengthen and secure the role of Key Enabling Technologies under Pillar II by ring-fencing their budget
  • Support the continuity of public private partnerships, as efficient instruments for excellent industry-led collaborative research in Europe
  • Preserve continuity of rules for participation, while continuing the efforts towards simplification
  • Foster a more balanced approach between Open Science and Intellectual Property (IP) policies,
  • Welcome the EIC Pathfinder instrument as a supporting instrument for European deep-tech start-up
  • Welcome the efforts undertaken to foster the synergy of funds between programmes.

Full statement

28 June: Give the ERC €28 billion

Universities of science and technology united under the Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research (CESAER) say that the proposed budget of €94.1 billion “falls significantly short of the €160 billion called for by the independent High Level Group chaired by Pascal Lamy and all major stakeholders.”

CESAER urges EU institutions to raise the budget for the European Research Council (ERC) to at least €28 billion and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) toat least €8 billion.

Also, research and Innovation Infrastructures (RII) should be allocated more than just 2.5 per cent of the overall budget. With such a budget, “the continuous promotion of transnational access, complementarity of research agendas and the design and implementation of particularly small and medium-scale RII are jeopardised,” said CESAER.

“We call upon the EU institutions to raise the overall budget to at least €120 billion and to allocate significantly more funding to Pillar I.”

Full statement

28 June: The budget is ‘unambitious’, say life sciences institutes

EU-LIFE, the alliance of 13 leading Life Science Research Institutes in Europe is concerned about the “unambitious investment proposed” by the Commission.

The institutes say that discoveries like gene editing technology CRISPR and quantum computing came about from investigator-driven projects. “We encourage Horizon Europe to expand the extremely successful programmes it has initiated, namely the ERC grant system and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, in addition to collaborative projects that address technological and environmental challenges facing our society today,” EU-LIFE said.

Full statement

28 June: University groups call for more science spending in Horizon Europe

In a rare joint statement issued on Friday, Europe's biggest 14 university groups, which include the League of European Research Universities, the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities and the European University Association (EUA), call for an increase in the total Horizon Europe budget, from €94.1 billion to €160 billion, and a re-organising of spending priorities within the programme’s three pillars.

Full statement

28 June: Track funding for renewables

The European Commission plans to spend €15 billion on climate, energy and mobility-related collaborative research under Horizon Europe.  

Since the budget headings of Horizon Europe are broader than under Horizon 2020, the Commission will have greater freedom to channel money to areas it considers important but takes away control from the European Parliament and Council by an equal measure.

The Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres (EUREC) said: “As spending decisions are political choices, we will not be surprised if Parliament and Council propose amendments that divide up the budget within the Commission’s proposed clusters to reflect the priority of their voters or populations.”

“It is important to track in real-time which areas within the clusters are receiving funding. The data will allow the trends in spending to be examined and debated.”

Full statement

28 June: Industry 4.0

The European Factories of the Future Research Association (EFFRA) recognises the important and positive approach indicated by the inclusion of a Digital and Industry cluster within the Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness pillar, particularly in the context of the ongoing transformation of manufacturing (i.e. industry 4.0). In particular, EFFRA strongly supports the proposed allocation of €15 billion is to be allocated to the Digital and Industry cluster.

Full statement

28 June: Health research needs a larger budget slice

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) says the Horizon Europe budget proposal is a good signal but it would support the call for a further increase. “It is critical that an appropriate proportion of the research budget is dedicated to health research and development,” EFPIA said.

Full statement

Horizon 2020 includes €7.4 billion for health research, including demographic change and wellbeing. Given this, the €300 million increase under Horizon Europe is “paltry” said Cecile Vernant, Head of EU Office for global development NGO Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung.

Full statement

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