Horizon Europe needs courageous budget increases
Position of the President on partial agreements reached by the EU Parliament and the EU Council on April 17, 2019
The Max Planck Society welcomes the partial agreements reached by the EU Council and EU Parliament on the forthcoming research framework programme Horizon Europe, in which general structures and framework conditions were established. In these rather turbulent political times, the European Union has demonstrated its clear intent to shape the future of Europe across parties and countries. This is not only an encouraging sign, but also a matter of urgency, because Europe is facing fierce global competition and losing ground to the USA and China in scientific and technological terms. It is therefore of great importance to further strengthen the European Research Area through Horizon Europe and national efforts. The successes of the previous Research Framework Programmes must be continued – via European programmes such as the European Research Council (ERC), the opening up of Europe-wide career paths, networking and cooperation between research institutions, a cross-programme quality orientation or the strengthening of promising research regions in Europe.
The overwhelming majority of EU states are far from achieving the agreed target of allocating three percent of their gross domestic product to investment in research and innovation. Expenditure on R&D by global competitors, on the other hand, is rising steadily. In order to be able to hold its own in this global competition between research regions, the European Research Area needs the best conditions for researchers, more internationally visible centres of excellence and even better networking. To secure and strengthen scientific quality and innovative capacity, expenditure on R&I must also increase at the European level. Good ideas should not be lost in Europe – but in Horizon2020 only one out of ten projects applied for has been approved so far. It would therefore be desirable to double the funding quotas in Horizon Europe by increasing the budget. Following the partial agreement reached on Horizon Europe, it is therefore essential to implement a substantial budget increase for R&I in the forthcoming budget negotiations on the EU financial framework for the years 2021 to 2027.
It is our researchers who generate decisive successes in science. The Max Planck Society is therefore convinced that the scientific and administrative autonomy of the ERC in Horizon Europe can only be secured by personalities who are outstanding in both research and research management. Against this background, the Max Planck Society welcomes the European Commission's proposal to embody the ERC into the legislation in the Horizon Europe programme, as was already the case in Horizon2020. This proposal has now been endorsed by the European Council and the European Parliament.