Petition for an increased EU Budget for Research and Innovation

Summer wish: an increased EU Budget for Research and Innovation

A successful EuroScience Open Forum has just been closed in Toulouse on July 14, 2018. We have celebrated science for all it means to society. But we are aware that this requires us to keep investing science and innovation. In times when Europe stands more on its own than ever since World War II, this means that Europe has to wield its most powerful axes. Its investment in Research and Innovation is probably the most important one outside e.g. trade policies. That is why EuroScience and the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE) launched a petition to double the EU Budget for Research and Innovation compared to Horizon 2020. Commissioner Carlos Moedas himself called at ESOF2018 for even stronger support for R&I. Brian Cahill, former president of the Marie Curie Alumni Association, gives more background information below.

As usual you will not find new articles on EuroScientist during the summer break. But we will be back in September, and we hope you will rejoin too. Looking at what is brewing in the US, or China or Russia or in countries like Hungary and Turkey, there will be many things we need to follow and exchange views upon.

We will meet again in September.


Commissioner Carlos Moedas recently published the European Commission’s proposal for Horizon Europe that will define the budgetary and thematic direction of the Research and Innovation Programme between 2021 to 2027. Although this proposal represents an budget increase to almost 100 billion €, many scientists, concerned citizens, innovators believe that Europe must invest more in research and innovation to remain competitive in global terms. Spending on research and innovation as a percentage of GDP is currently significantly higher in South Korea, Japan, USA and China than in Europe.

EuroScience and the Initiative for Science in Europe launched a petition to call for the Horizon Europe budget to be increased to 160 billion €. This petition has already been signed by Nobel Laureates and presidents of many respected institutions and associations. Nevertheless, it is important that researchers and citizens support this petition and the campaign to increase the budget for Horizon Europe, so that, research and innovation can make a greater contribution to the progress of research for the benefit of Europe and the wider world.

In a time of increased nationalism, both in Europe and the wider world, it is imperative that Europe supports cooperation in the field of research and innovation. The European framework programmes have successfully encouraged intra-European research cooperation and led to the creation of the European Research Area. Furthermore, it is imperative that Horizon Europe contributes to addressing societal and global challenges in a cohesive way. Dealing with complex issues requires multi-disciplinary teams and extensive global research collaboration.

The interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 reported that over subscription of Horizon 2020 calls led to the average success rate dropping to 11.6% from 18.4% in FP7. Over subscription means that many excellent proposals remain unfunded and often very tiny differences determine which projects get funded. Over-subscription contributes to creating a climate of increasing hyper-competition in research.

Investment in research is necessary to protect the investment in supporting the next generation of researchers. The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and the European Research Council are the two research programmes that younger researchers most often apply for. Voices have been raised to call for higher funding for these programmes. The graphs below (graphs by Gareth O’Neill of Eurodoc) show the absolute change of budget between the Horizon 2020 budget and the proposal for Horizon Europe and the relative change as a percentage of the total budget. It can be seen that the proposed budget increase represents an unchanged share of budget for ERC and a decline in relative funding for the MSCA. Both programmes are very attractive to applicants and already suffer from increasingly lower success rates: the proposed budget is not high enough to significantly improve success rates in either of these programmes. An increased budget for both programmes is to be strongly advised.

The next step in the budgetary process depends on negotiations between the European Parliament, the Member States of the European Union and the European Commission. A draft report of the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy has already called to increase the budget to 120 billion €.

We call researchers and citizens to sign this petition for an Increased EU Budget for Research and Innovation. We believe that doubling the budget to 160 billion € is necessary to ensure that European research and innovation can contribute to growth and employment in Europe and for Europe to take leadership in solving global challenges.

Peter Tindemans, EuroScience Secretary General

Brian Cahill, EuroScience Governing Board member

Brian Cahill

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