The European Parliament's industry and research committee today adopted its position on Horizon 2020, the EU's framework programme for research and innovation from 2014-20 (1). Commenting after the vote, Green research and innovation spokesperson Philippe Lamberts (MEP, Belgium) said:
"Today's vote would ensure Horizon 2020 can serve as a motor to position Europe at the forefront of innovation on the key global challenges facing our societies. However, the vote is sadly overshadowed by negotiations between EU governments on the future EU budget. The core future-oriented programmes under the EU budget, notably Horizon 2020, look set to fall victim to the horse-trading between member states seeking to defend narrow national interests.
"MEPs have voted to put Europe at the forefront of research and innovation on some of the core challenges facing our economies and societies, like health, food, mobility, climate change and the environment. The programme is ambitious in terms of promoting the sustainable transformation of our economies, for example in the area of energy: MEPs have supported plans to ensure 90% of Horizon 2020 funding foreseen for energy is targeted towards renewable energies.
"Small and medium-sized enterprises should also benefit from these core EU funds more easily than in the past, with 20% of the budget for industry and innovation reserved for SMEs (up from 15% under the current programme). The Greens pushed for this and welcomed the support for proposals to ensure 4.5% of the overall budget will be managed by agencies working solely for the benefit of SMEs. In general, Horizon 2020 should be much more easy to access than previous EU research and innovation programmes.
"Unfortunately, despite all the rhetoric about using the EU budget to stimulate competitiveness and innovation, the latest proposals from EU governments in Council look set to sacrifice the core programme aimed at delivering on this goal: Horizon 2020. There is a real concern the original €100 billion budget foreseen for Horizon 2020 could be slashed in half. It is cynical in the extreme to talk about future spending and growth, whilst cutting the budgets for research and innovation, at the expense of outdated agricultural spending."
(1) See the Commission's page on Horizon 2020: http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm