28 May 2020   |   News

MEPs postpone vote on Horizon Europe legislation

Decision to postpone is ‘organisational’ but could be read as a signal to member states and national research ministers to agree on the final details of the research programme before the next EU budget comes into force

The European Parliament’s industry committee (ITRE) postponed a vote on entering trilogue negotiations with the council and the commission on Horizon Europe and three other pieces of legislation that heavy R&D focus, Digital Europe, the European Defence Fund and the EU’s new space programme.

The vote was scheduled for today, but MEPs decided to postpone it for a week. The move came shortly after the European Commission announced its new proposal for a multiannual budget, which is pending approval from EU member states.

According to parliament sources, the votes were postponed because of “organisational reasons” and MEPs will not change their decision to vote to kick-start the trilogues, which need to take place as soon as member states agree on the EU budget.

In the new budget plan, Horizon Europe would get a €13.5 billion increase from a pandemic recovery fund, but the defence and space programmes are more likely to have their budgets cut.

Horizon Europe has been largely agreed upon except how its budget will be distributed across the different pillars, how will it work with other EU funding schemes, and what the terms for international cooperation will be.

According to the same parliament sources, the decision to delay the vote could also be interpreted as a signal to member states and national research ministers to agree on these three issues.

The industry committee has finalised the legal texts, but these still need the approval of national research ministers in the European Council.

Last week, Horizon Europe rapporteur Christian Ehler has sent a letter urging Anja Karliczek, Germany’s minister of education and research, to prioritise the research programme during the German presidency of the council, due to start in July.

“I would urge you, minister, to make as much progress as possible on all the outstanding issues relating to Horizon Europe, so that we can adopt the programme quickly once the discussions on the MFF are concluded,” Ehler said.

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