European research priorities for 2021-2027 agreed with member states

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(Louis Reed, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


A provisional deal on Horizon Europe that bridges the EU research gap, prioritises SMEs and broadens thematic research was agreed with member states on Tuesday night.

The European Parliament’s negotiating team agreed a partial provisional deal on Horizon Europe and its specific programme with the Council on Tuesday night. This comes less than two weeks after the European Parliament put forward a constructive compromise package in order to reach an agreement.
The deal will allow the Commission to start preparing to implement the programme, as a list of areas for research missions and institutionalised partnerships is part of the agreement.
The deal does not include the budget for the programme, as this is part of the negotiations on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, but the European Parliament in December 2018 asked for the programme budget to be increased by €36.5 billion to €120 billion in 2018 prices (€135.25 billion in current prices) compared to the European Commission’s proposal. Non-EU country participation and synergies with other EU programmes will also be decided on at a later stage.
Bridging the EU research gap
The European Parliament has prioritised getting low performing countries on research and innovation to participate more. This has been achieved in the deal by recognising the need to reduce the remuneration gap between researchers in the EU and by increasing the budget dedicated to spreading excellence and widening participation to up to 3.3 % of the programme.
More support to SMEs
There is broader support to SMEs, including start-ups, compared to the Commission’s proposal, with at least 70% of the budget of the newly created European Innovation Council to be dedicated to SMEs and the possibility to support them through grants only, in line with the position of the European Parliament.
Broadening thematic research to address challenges and European competitiveness
A total of five mission areas (adaptation to climate change, cancer, healthy oceans, climate-neutral and smart cities, food and soil health) and eight partnership areas were agreed. Horizon Europe will also introduce new intervention areas, including support for social sciences and humanities (SSH), as well as creative industries, through a dedicated cluster on “Culture, creativity and inclusive society”.
In addition there will be clusters on health; security; digital, industry and space; energy, climate and mobility.
Climate target
The deal includes the requirement that at least 35 % of Horizon Europe shall go to climate-related research, which is 10 % higher than the target for the entire EU budget.
Quotes
The rapporteur for the Horizon Europe Framework Programme proposal Dan Nica (S&D, RO) said: “We managed to negotiate and conclude an agreement in only three months on this important piece of legislation in order to support the new programme and allow for timely implementation. Through science, innovation, and ground-breaking research, Europe can become more competitive, address the key challenges that our world is facing and stay at the forefront of knowledge and innovation. The results achieved at this stage shows a strong commitment to our citizens and research community. I would also like to underline that, on the outstanding issues, the European Parliament is committed to keep the level of ambition and have a budget of 120 billion EUR and ensure non-EU countries can participate.”
The rapporteur for the Implementing Horizon Europe proposal Christian Ehler (EPP, DE) said: “In the midst of the Brexit crisis, today’s agreement is a breath of fresh air. It shows that Europe is able to act and live up to the R&I ambitions formulated by Heads of State. Europe is at a historic crossroads, which is why we have pushed for an agreement before the European elections. Research stakeholders need a stable framework to be able to compete with our global competitors; time is of the essence.”
Next steps
The provisional deal will now have to be adopted by Parliament’s Committee for Industry, Research and Energy and Plenary as well as the Council. Once the Council has agreed on the size of the overall budget, the next European Parliament will negotiate on the outstanding issues related to Horizon Europe with member states.

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