For many years, the Max-Planck-Society (MPG) has successfully participated in the European Research Framework Programmes. The MPG intends to continue this commitment and is, therefore, intensively involved in the discussion towards the final structure of the Horizon 2020 for the promotion of science within the European Research and Innovation Area. The MPG welcomes the draft proposal presented by the European Commission: The ongoing emphasis on the criterion of excellence for the evaluation and the selection of EU-funded projects will increase the attraction of Horizon 2020. Furthermore, its effectiveness will be enhanced through the suggested simplification for the programme and project management.
In response to the Horizon 2020 draft version presented by the European Commission, the following considerations are of special interest for MPG:
1. Excellence and competition for EU funds should be finally settled in the Rules for Participation for Horizon 2020 (management rules) as the main funding principles. So far, Article 14 of the Rules for Participation foresees today only for the European Research Council (ERC) a clear preference for an evaluation solely on the criterion of excellence.
2. Knowledge-oriented research is the foundation of all innovation. Therefore, the MPG stresses out that basic research should be in Horizon 2020 firmly anchored in all funding axes and programmes along the lines set by the very successful previous EU programme New and Emerging Science Technologies (NEST).
3. The autonomy of the ERC should be further strengthened in addition with a doubling of the budget in Horizon 2020 to around 15 billion euros. The Scientific Council and ERC agency should take appropriate actions to increase the ERC’s international visibility. Highly qualified scientists of all age groups from around the world should be targeted in order to sustainably boost Europe as a center of excellence in the world.
4. Fusion research and ITER require a decent financing from 2014 to 2020 through the EURATOM programme in order to safeguard Europe’s leading role in this sophisticated technology, to secure this very important future energy source for Europe’s society and, moreover, to avoid the personnel and expertise from the fusion scene to be head-hunted by other globally competing research areas.