European ambition for research and innovation needs stronger reflection in the EU’s budget for 2021-2027
The Guild urges the Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament to increase their commitment to research, education and innovation in the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), and ensure a timely start for 2021. The Guild also underlines that the aspiration of the NextGenerationEU recovery instrument to support research, innovation and education must be evidenced in the descriptions of the programmes that it covers.
We live in an unprecedented time when the need for science has never been clearer. The EU and its Member States rely on investments in science to overcome the current coronavirus pandemic, which are increasingly needed in the long-term to ensure that we are much more prepared for the next global crisis. Our inability to overcome the pandemic quickly has shown that we have significantly underinvested in fundamental, frontier-led science. Continuing this trend would be a major mistake. Our inability to confront future challenges will have dramatic human, social and economic costs.
For this reason, The Guild strongly welcomes the urgency expressed by President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel, that the upcoming investments in European recovery from the crisis have to prioritise research and innovation.
The Commission’s proposal of €94bn to be spent on Horizon Europe in the next seven years is a step in the right direction compared to the Council’s latest proposal of €81bn. We strongly support the call of the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) for spending €120bn on Horizon Europe. Unless we strengthen Europe’s scientific resilience, any investment in Europe’s recovery could easily be undermined by another crisis.
The Guild also calls for urgent clarification of the NextGenerationEU recovery programme. Its momentum should be used for increasing investments in research, innovation and education in member states. We also call for greater clarity on how the link with NextGenerationEU will affect the nature of Horizon Europe. It is essential that Horizon Europe retains an exclusive focus on, and a proper balance between, research and innovation.
At a time when we are witnessing a reduction of movement across borders, students need to be empowered more than ever to provide for a new future in which barriers are overcome. This is why Europe needs a substantial increase in the budget for Erasmus+. While being a step in the right direction, the extra €3.4bn proposed by the Commission are not enough to support the next generation with the skills to build a better Europe.
The EU must capitalise on the unique value that science brings to supporting its citizens, in the current crisis and in the future. We call for the decision-makers to work efficiently towards an agreement on the proposals for MFF and NextGenerationEU, so that the programmes could start in 2021 with a strong core devoted to research, education, and innovation.