If national self-interest sinks Horizon Europe, we all lose
Within the next two weeks, both the European Parliament and the European Council hope to agree their positions on the European Commission’s proposal for Horizon Europe, the next EU Framework programme. The stakes could not be higher.
It is no exaggeration to say there is a real risk that the Framework programme will lose its reputation as a cutting-edge transnational funding programme for research and innovation. Three fundamental issues have emerged.
First, the Parliament is challenging Horizon Europe’s very foundation, the principle of excellence. By calling for the programme to aim at significantly reducing the research divide between Europe’s regions, the Parliament is threatening to undermine the programme’s core principle of supporting excellence wherever it exists.
Should we try harder to ensure that excellence is supported in all parts of Europe? Absolutely. But to introduce set targets for countries would compromise Horizon Europe’s ability to support the researchers and innovators with the best proposals regardless of their location.
This would undermine the trust of scientists, institutions and publishers in the quality of the programme. It would hurt everyone: the EU13 newer member states and EU15 countries, as well as the wider European Research Area.