Actividade Parlamentar

Relatório Horizon 2020

Apresentação

What is Horizon 2020? 

On the 30th of November 2011, the European Commission presented "Horizon 2020 - to run from  2014 to 2020 - an €80 billion package for research and innovation funding.  The programme represents the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union; a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness whilst constituting a part of the drive to create sustainable growth and new jobs in Europe.

The new programme, Horizon 2020 will make it easier for applicants to seek funding and is designed to help bring more good ideas to market. As such, Horizon 2020 will bring together all existing EU research and innovation funding currently provided through the Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). It will provide funding for every stage of the innovation process from basic research to market uptake, in line with the EU's commitments under the "Innovation Union".

Whilst the question of the funding of research is, of course, crucial, another question that is no less critical is that of how best to actually structure and organise research at European level. In this sense, Horizon2020 will be much more then a funding programme. It will be a fundamental instrument in structuring research and innovation in Europe. Therefore, it should be designed to overcome fragmentation and to encourage collaboration across Europe and beyond.

Horizon 2020 will be complemented by further measures to complete the European Research Area by 2014 (IP/11/1025, MEMO/11/597). These measures will aim at breaking down barriers to creating a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation.

Assessment

Horizon 2020 is a set of programmes that will have real impact on the lives of European Citizens.  The Commission Proposal is well-balanced and well-thought out.  The report represents a solid basis on which we can now build. Indeed, the Commission has accomplished a real step forward and has shown itself to be highly responsive to the recommendations made by the European Parliament and by other stakeholders and interested parties.  This includes the recommendations found in my own E.P. report on simplification.  However, there are some details that still have to be filled in and some aspects that could, undoubtedly, be improved.

Structure and Content

The structure is much improved by comparison with previous Framework Programmes.  It is simpler and it strikes a highly satisfactory balance between the three pillars of 

  • Excellence in science
  • Industrial leadership
  • And societal challenges

Amongst other things, I welcome 

One option if we are to reinforce the bridge between excellence and capacity building might be to make the "Regions of Knowledge" programme over to Horizon 2020.

Similarly, I strongly support the extension of the Future and Emerging Technologies programme to cover other themes.

The bottom-up principle of the FET scheme should be extended to other Horizon 2020 priorities such as the Industrial Leadership and the societal challenges. With regard to industrial leadership and societal challenges, I also acknowledge: 

  • the integration of the CIP into the Industrial Leadership pillar. Industrial Leadership is primarily devoted to the industry and business sector. However, the involvement of the universities and the research community and SMEs in general in these projects will be highly beneficial.
  • the division of the major societal challenges into six areas and the priority given to Health and Clean Technologies. The use of a more bottom-up, flexible and multidisciplinary approach is highly desirable. Science-driven activities should be central to the priorities arising in connection with societal challenges.
  • Finally, the social sciences and humanities should  not be restricted to the "Inclusive, Innovative and Secure Societies" and should be included in all aspects of the discussion concerning societal issues.

Funding

Horizon 2020, as it stands, already represents a substantial increase in the budget available for research and innovation: €80bn; in fact, as compared with the €52bn under the previous programme.  Gratifying as this is, the EU Parliament has been pressing for an effective doubling of the budget directly attributed to the Framework programme, something that would effectively bring the new figure to around €100bn.

Generally speaking, there is a balanced allocation of funds across the different sub programmes. However, the proposed budget for the Marie Curie Actions will drop from 2013 to 2014. Marie Curie has been a successful programme and therefore the budget should at least be maintained at the levels of 2013. Another alternative is to reinforce synergy between this programme and EIT and the Erasmus for All, as both programmes will undergo a substantial increase in budget.

Simplification

Finally, there is the matter of simplification; something of a crusade with me. The new programme includes the greatest part of the many recommendations that were made in my simplification report. These include:

  • A single set of rules for all elements of Horizon 2020.
  • Horizon 2020 accepts the different accounting practices that the participants have already adopted in their respective countries.
  • Simplification in the time recording system.
  • Direct costs will henceforward be reimbursed at a 100 percent, something that will considerably simplify the lives of all concerned. However, given that a number of institutions have devoted considerable effort in moving to full costing, I regret that the full costing will not be possible
  • Importantly, VAT will be considered an eligible cost for institutions that cannot recover this tax from their own state fiscal systems. The Commission and the E.P. should make sure that we defend this principle throughout forthcoming negotiations with Council.
  • The new rules should facilitate the recruitment of staff to universities in order to work on Horizon 2020 projects. Hopefully, this will keep young researchers in gainful employment.
  • Finally, several aspects of Intellectual Property Rights require profound reflection.  

As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel and Horizon 2020 begins to take real shape, I am very much looking forward to what I am sure will be rewarding and stimulating work. 

Maria da Graça Carvalho