The European Parliament’s rapporteurs for Horizon Europe, MEPs Dan Nica and Christian Ehler, have released two draft reports reflecting the positions the EP may adopt during negotiations on the Commission’s proposal.
The Guild fully supports their calls for a budget of at least €120bn and emphasises that Horizon Europe’s ability to build on its successes and support Europe’s best researchers hinges on increasing the programme’s budget shares for the ERC and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. The Guild also calls on decision-makers to reiterate that scientific excellence should underpin Horizon Europe’s activities to maintain the programme’s high standards and its reputation for world-class science.
Fostering fundamental research across the three pillars and strengthening the role of academia
The importance of fundamental research should be made explicit in the legal texts and it should be a core element of the programme’s three pillars. In this context, we welcome Nica’s and Ehler’s demands for Horizon Europe to support all stages of research and innovation, as well as their emphasis on fostering collaborative research.
One persistent cause for concern, however, is that academic institutions receive limited attention in the Commission’s proposal. Researchers and academic experts should be well represented in the strategic planning processes and in upcoming expert groups and governance bodies (i.e., on the EIC and the missions initiative). In addition, it is essential that the role of Advisory Groups (comprising university stakeholders) is strengthened to ensure that cutting-edge research drives the implementation of the programme.
Safeguarding support for social sciences and humanities (SSH) research
To guarantee that SSH disciplines fully contribute to addressing global challenges in pillar 2, they should be mainstreamed across the thematic clusters. However, The Guild cannot support proposals that aim to boost the cultural and creative industries as part of the ‘Inclusive Societies’ cluster. We maintain that Horizon Europe must focus on fostering excellent research and innovation, not subsidising sectors using actions that are already covered by the Creative Europe programme.
Sharing excellence without compromising the core principles of the programme
Closing the European R&I divide between European regions and countries has been a priority for The Guild from the start. Our network proposes increasing the budget allocated to the Sharing Excellence instruments to 2.5% of the total budget for Horizon Europe. We also caution policymakers against duplicating the objectives of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in Horizon Europe.
Fostering international collaboration and strengthening the European Research Area
To lead on research and innovation and strengthen the European Research Area, Europe must be able to attract international talent. Limiting the focus of R&I activities to EU Member States could harm the international prestige of Horizon Europe and hinder researchers’ ability to address global challenges. Associated countries such as Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (once its new status is determined), should retain the same rights they have under the current programme, Horizon 2020.