Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU’s flagship research programme, Horizon Europe, is set to boost the bloc’s green and digital ambitions following yesterday’s parliamentary debate, which strongly supported the bloc’s key R&D programme.
Later today, MEPs are expected to adopt the broad framework and criteria that will determine the shape and range of the next seven years of the EU R&D programme’s operations. This should include provision for a proposed 95.5 billion euro budget, representing a 30% increase over that of its 2020 predecessor.
Also under review is the European Innovation Technology Council (EIT), a new tool for innovative SMEs and start-ups, which, according to rapporteur Maria da Graça Carvalho (EPP), will be “instrumental in addressing the main obstacles” facing the bloc.
“Over the past three years, we have pushed hard for more transparency, less bureaucracy and a better balanced geographical distribution of the initiatives, with an increased participation by SMEs”, Carvalho stated.
Horizon Europe’s framework
“The allocation of the money within the programme reflects the ambitions of the EU and the challenges that our society faces, including for the recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic”, MEP Dan Nica (S&D) commented.
Horizon Europe’s increased budget will allow the EU to reinforce strategic components of the programme, such as the European Research Council, the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions for the mobility of researchers and the EIT.
“One novelty that I believe is particularly important is that we have set up a whole new cluster for the cultural and creative industries, which is a crucial sector in European innovation”, MEP Christian Ehler (EPP) observed.
Congratulating the Parliament and MEPs for their efforts, Research and Innovation Commissioner Mariya Gabriel urged the EU to turn these ambitions a reality.
“Horizon Europe and EIT will help us address health, green and digital challenges, benefiting academia, SMEs, business and citizens”, Gabriel assured.
Nonetheless, the EU is insistent on retaining a say as to which organisations it will allow to participate with Horizon Europe in specific domains. For example, according to the publication Science Business, German, French and UK university bodies have urged the Commission to consider lifting its threat to bar Israel, Switzerland and the UK from EU quantum and space projects.
Despite the conjecture, it is expected that these nations will acquire associate status in the EU Horizon Europe programme by the end of the year. As is, researchers and businesses from all three countries are already able to bid for funding and to join or lead project consortia.