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The future EU Research and innovation programmes

2011-07-11 - Science and Bussiness

This is a particularly crucial moment for the European scientific community as the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission are preparing the future European Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 - the successor to the Seventh Framework Programme. The European Institutions have also begun negotiations around the future EU budget, post - 2013.

The report on the "Green Paper: From Challenges to opportunities: towards a common strategic framework for EU Research and innovation funding" was voted this week in the plenary at the EP. It is with satisfaction that the EPP group has seen its main proposals in the report:

  • Increase the budget for the next Framework Programme for research and innovation;
  • Coordination of the next Framework Programme with the Structural Funds;
  • Inclusion of the concept "stairway to excellence";
  • Creation of the conditions for greater involvement of industry, particularly SMEs;
  • Promotion of the participation of young researchers;
  • Financial and administrative simplification.

Research and innovation are two central pillars in economic development and job creation in Europe. It is therefore essential to increase the portion of the funding that is allocated to research and innovation within the overall EU budget.  This involves substantially increasing the budget of the Framework Programme and the earmarking of the structural funds to be dedicated to this sector.

At the moment, we, in the European Parliament, are struggling to achieve a doubling of the Budget for the next European Programme for Research and Innovation as compared with the present programme. Hopefully, this will represent an increase from €50 billion to €100 billion.

Since then, the European Commission has advanced an alternative figure of €80 billion as part of the post- 2013 7-year budget package. The next step will involve tough negotiations between the main three European Institutions, Parliament, Council and the Commission.

But it is not only a question of simply doubling the budget directly attributed to the Framework Programme.  It is also necessary to increase the share of the funding that is attributed to research and innovation within the overall EU budget.  This can be done in a combination of an increase in funding for the framework programme and by increasing the share devoted to research and innovation within the structural funds. Therefore, it is important to coordinate and to enhance synergy between these instruments.

Moreover, a larger budget will enable us to promote excellence at a European level. But it is equally important that we encourage the first sprouts of excellence within the new programme In this respect, the EPP has proposed the concept of "stairway to excellence" to create the conditions for the participation of small units of embryonic excellence, such as small research groups and highly innovative start ups.

Recognizing the essential role of business in economic development and job creation, the EPP welcomes the importance attached to SMEs in this report.

Youth unemployment, including amongst the highly qualified, is a scourge in many EU countries. The participation of these young people in research projects will be doubly beneficial: the dynamism and innovative spirit of youth will galvanise the projects whilst the the Framework Programme will provide for faster entry of qualified young people in the labour market.

Finally, it is urgent to simplify access to funds for research and to develop a culture of trust among all stakeholders in order to strengthen research and innovation in Europe. The Horizon 2020 programme is a comprehensive and carefully thought out programme.  However, we need more trust, simplicity, flexibility, and excellence based criteria.