In focus: A new Horizon for Europe after 2020 to stay at the forefront of research and innovation worldwide
Research & innovation is becoming a precondition to our economy and to our society. The present EU political and economic scenario has been deeply influenced by the recent economic crisis but also by the perception, especially among younger generations, that the European Union with its heavy bureaucracy and a complex decision making process is too far from the citizens’ problems. During the economic and financial crisis of recent years, the Countries which invested more in research & innovation have been the most resilient, and also those where the investments have been more efficient. Investing in new generations of high-value and high-quality goods and services is thus crucial to promote stable and sustainable growth, knowledge transfer and reduce unemployment while increasing the consciousness that the European Union is taking effective actions to tackle such fundamental issues for citizens.
Research and innovation must therefore, now more than ever, be considered essential drivers to re-launch Europe’s competitiveness and growth and consequently require a substantial increase in the budget under the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) post 2020. This would create long-term-highly skilled jobs and tackle societal challenges, while rethinking R&I policies and investments in Europe to put research and innovation at the forefront.
In the framework of the next EU long-term budget recently released as to the period 2021 - 2027, resources for research activities are foreseen in many areas of EU policy. More in details, the European Commission has proposed to allocate € 100 billion for research and innovation. The new EU’s flagship research programme, HORIZON EUROPE, shall consolidate the results and success of the previous one (Horizon 2020) and shall allow the EU to remain at the forefront of research and innovation worldwide. New technologies will largely and differently impacts on health, food & water transport, communication, security, environment, energy, data production and protection, requiring a transition phase where research in all these domains will play a fundamental role.
Horizon Europe is one of the few current EU budget lines of the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) to get increase in seven-year proposal. The budget foresees €97.6 billion for Horizon Europe and €2.4 billion for the Euratom nuclear research programme. For Horizon Europe, that’s an increase of almost 30 per cent on the EU’s existing research programme of €77 billion. Horizon Europe will represents therefore the most ambitious research and innovation program ever (click here for finding out how the framework programs for research and development have evolved from FP1).
Horizon Europe budget will be divided into three “pillars”, on open science, open innovation, and global challenges and industrial competitiveness (“open to the world”, or international cooperation, will be scattered throughout the programme). The plans for Horizon Europe contain a lot of continuity with Horizon 2020 such as the promotion of scientific excellence through the European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Skłodowska-Curie scholarships and exchanges. But Horizon Europe will introduce some key innovations and some new elements such as the establishment of a European Innovation Council to promote innovation and the introduction of mission-oriented research. The Commission staff drafted a summary of what they consider the “key improvements” in the programme.
For the first time, in preparing Horizon Europe, the Commission engaged in extensive, systematic and multi-year foresightto reflect on key societal challenges. The Commission has built on specific reports and strategic recommendations to maximise the impact of the future framework programme. We compiled a brief summary of the public consultation documents and processes of the last few months: it helps understand the Commission's guidelines and the contributions of other stakeholders (Parliament, Council, Member States, R & I actors , etc.). Stakeholders' views on what the EU should do to foster international cooperation in research and innovation in Horizon Europe have been also investigated as reported in this article by ScienceIBusiness.
Within Horizon Europe, in order to identify the global challenges, a "mission-oriented approach” will be used to define ambitious objectives and thus ensure the effectiveness of research and innovation funding and maximising the impact of investments. The Commission has involved policy experts to develop studies, case studies and reports on how a mission-oriented policy approach will work (find here the series of inputs). Among these Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation in the European Union by Prof. Mazzucato underlines 5 criteria for selecting the missions in the next framework program. Briefly said, these shall be ambitious and risky but also realistically feasible, they will need to foster cross-sectoralinnovation, be inspirational with wide societal relevance. These shall be not individual projects, but rather portfolios of bold actions to meet big challenges and allow Europe to take a bold and visionary step forward.
“Building Horizon Europe” Timeline:
- 7 June 2018 the Commission adopted its proposal for Horizon Europe
- the Council and European Parliament shall now negotiate and subsequently adopt the programme
- Horizon Europe will be launched on 1 January 2021
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