‘No time to lose’ over size of Horizon Europe budget, says Germany’s research minister

01 Sep 2020 | News

The German presidency of the EU Council wants to push member states to agree on final details of Horizon Europe by the end of September

Anja Karliczek

Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research in Germany. Photo: Federal government.

Germany’s research minister Anja Karliczek has called on MEPs to not be “discouraged” by the smaller Horizon Europe budget agreed in July and focus on finding a consensus on association, synergies and research partnerships so the programme can start in January 2021.

“[The European Parliament] can give their position, but personally I would be very happy if we could now move on to our work to getting things done,” Karliczeck told MEPs in the research and industry committee on Tuesday. “We have no time to lose.”

Karliczek said she is aware that researchers and universities across Europe are disappointed with the outcome of the budget summit in July, where EU leaders agreed on a slimmed-down budget of €80.9 billion for Horizon Europe.

In a proposal put forward by the European Commission in May, Horizon Europe was slated to get a total €94.4 billion (in 2018 prices) over the next seven years, of which €80.9 billion was from the EU’s long-term budget and €13.5 billion from the new pandemic recovery fund.

After negotiations among member states concluded Horizon Europe saw significant cuts, as leaders agreed to give it only €75.9 billion from the core budget and €5 billion from the recovery fund.   

Since then, a flurry of MEPs across all parties came out to defend Horizon Europe and vowed to work together on finding more money for future-oriented R&D, threatening to veto the budget deal if their demands are not met.

However, according to Karliczek, any further negotiations on the size of the Horizon Europe budget would stall its timely adoption before the end of this year. “We need to get going,” she said. “What we are doing now is limited by the time factor.”

The German presidency of the EU council hopes all remaining issues in the Horizon Europe legislation will be agreed at a meeting of research ministers on 29 September. “The calendar is very clear,” Karliczek said. “We have four weeks to solve those details.”

Research ministers have to agree on how the €80.9 billion budget will be distributed across different parts of the programme, how it could be used in sync with other EU funding sources, and which countries outside the EU will be allowed to participate.

After research ministers reach an agreement on these issues, the parliament, the council and the commission will have to agree on the final shape of the programme. 

Portuguese MEP Maria da Graça Carvalho accused Karliczek of being “evasive” and asked Germany to explain more clearly what its position on the size of the Horizon Europe budget is and whether resources can be shuffled towards the research programme. “Germany is a moderator,” said Karliczek.

German MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel asked Karliczek to figure out specific ways to top Horizon Europe coffers from other budget areas. “Buzzwords are just covering gaping wide gaps,” said von Cramon-Taubadel.

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