Press European Union - A strong budget in Science and Innovation to boost growth and create jobs

Opinion Articles | 19-06-2020 in Público
Co-author: Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, and so is our common response to the virus outbreak.  When governments and societies around the world have been struggling to contain the global pandemic, when our  economies have been suffering like never before, and our personal and professional lives have been massively disrupted, research and innovation turned out to be the most impactful and powerful tools to start bringing us back to a ‘new normal’.

Researchers and innovators are working around the clock to better understand the novel virus, as this is the only way we can develop effective treatments and diagnostics and deliver a globally awaited vaccine.               

Faced with economic uncertainty and the impossibility to assess long-term effects of the pandemic, research and innovation will guide Europe in its green and digital transitions.

They have not lost their power to drive growth, to create jobs and boost competitiveness. But Europe needs a fit-for-purpose budget to make it happen. A budget with strong research and innovation at its backbone.  After several months, the European Council will revert to the EU long-term budget on 19 June. The coming weeks will be crucial to set the long-term EU budget on the right track.

The European Union created the biggest research and innovation programme in the world: Horizon 2020. Research & Innovation are the most important engine of growth. 400 to 600 billion euro by 2030 is the estimated GDP gain from Horizon 2020. It drives the development of knowledge-intensive activities, which make up over 33% of total employment in Europe.

In view of a very demanding future, we are now in the final stages of preparing its even more ambitious successor: Horizon Europe. It has powerful tools and novel approaches such as new public-private partnerships and large-scale missions to help us to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050.  Europe’s aptitude to address decarbonisation and digital transformation relies on the development and update on new technologies and innovation. If we are to reach the potential target of 50% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, which is of transformative nature for all industrial sectors in Europe, we will need coordinated efforts and a strong Horizon Europe.

On 27 May 2020, the Commission has proposed to reinforce Horizon Europe with an extra 13.5 billion euro from the recovery instrument Next Generation EU. The programme will reach 94.4 billion euro in total. Additional money will allow for greater focus and will facilitate vital research in health, resilience and the green and digital transitions.

Now we need Member States – we need your country – to give Europe the chance for a recovery based on scientific achievements, and agree on an ambitious budget for Horizon Europe. Getting a sufficient budget for Horizon Europe would not only mean the creation of up to 100,000 jobs in Research & Innovation activities by 2027 and a massive investment shot into our economies.

At the same time, Research Ministers should speed up discussion on the open issues of Horizon Europe to avoid delaying the start of the Programme that will help us to combat the long-term impact of this pandemic, and better prepare us. It will help to combat cancer, to discover new solutions for climate-neutral cities, to provide energy and food security, to take better care of the quality of our oceans, and to prepare us for inevitable social and economic changes. Let’s not waste this chance.

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