A group of European research and education organisations have expressed their “great concern” over plans to take funds from the Horizon 2020 budget to provide money for a strategic investment fund.
The European University Association, League of European Research Universities and Science Europe are among five organisations to issue a joint statement to oppose the move proposed by the European Commission that will see €2.7 billion (£2.02 billion) cut from its flagship research and innovation programme.
In a separate statement Leru says that cuts to the budget of the European Research Council and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grants scheme – both parts of Horizon 2020 - are “unjustifiable”.
The new president of the EC, Jean-Claude Juncker has called for the creation of a €315 billion European Fund for Strategic Investment to boost public and private investment in the continent’s economy over the next three years.
Under current proposals being discussed in Brussels, some funding will come from the budget of Horizon 2020, the biggest European Union research and innovation programme worth €80 billion (£61.3 billion) in funding over the next six years.
The joint statement says “deviating funds from such a pan-EU research and innovation programme” to create funds for such a project “does not make sense”.
Any cuts to the budget will weaken Horizon 2020, it says. The regulations surrounding the strategic investment fund “offer little reassurance” that projects funded under it will support research and innovation activities, it adds.
In a separate statement Leru describes the decision as “short sighted”. “Investments in ERC-type…research are proven to lead to longer-term and larger positive spill-overs to the economy than government investments in innovation,” it says.
The EC has said that the strategic investment fund will direct investments to research, but Leru argues that this will not be the case in the short term.
“It’s highly likely that these investments will be in applied and close-to-market research and development, not in ERC-type…research,” it says. The ERC typically funds blue skies research.
Signatories of the joint statement also include the Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research and EARTO, an association of European research and technology organisations.