Horizon 2020 agreement reached

The European Union’s next research and innovation funding programme, known as Horizon 2020, looks set to begin on schedule next year

June 28, 2013

EU European Parliament

It comes after European’s three decision-making bodies agreed a €70 billion (£60 billion) budget and resolved their differences over its costing mechanism.

The €70 billion figure was first proposed by the council of ministers in February, but has been subjected to intense wrangling after the European Parliament refused to back down over its demands for a budget of €100 billion.

The parliament had also been holding out for a form of full economic costing to be maintained, rather than a new, flat-rate costing system. This led to fears from some universities that the beginning of the programme, scheduled to run from 2014 to 2020, might be delayed.

However, in negotiations with the European Commission – which originally proposed a budget of €80 billion – and the Irish government, which currently chairs the EU, the parliament’s negotiators have agreed to simplified costing system and a budget of €70.2 billion.

That figure is a per cent increase on the €55 billion budget for the current Seventh Framework Programme. However, funding levels next year are likely to dip below this year’s historical high of €8.1 billion before increasing again.

The commission, parliament and presidency have also agreed that 1 per cent of the Horizon 2020 budget will be spent on helping weaker institutions boost their capacity to compete for mainstream funding via initiatives such as partnerships with stronger institutions.

The deal still needs to be formally endorsed by member states next month and the full parliament in September.

But Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the commissioner for research, innovation and science, said: “We now have within reach what the European Parliament, EU member states and European Commission all envisaged from the start: a research and innovation programme that will make a real difference for jobs and growth in Europe.”

paul.jump@tsleducation.com

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