President's position on the EU compromise

A good day for European solidarity, a bad day for European research funding

July 21, 2020

The Max Planck Society congratulates the European heads of government on the compromise reached on the multi-annual EU budget from 2021 to 2027 and on the recovery plan. The result is an impressive declaration of European solidarity. But nevertheless, it is a bad day for European research funding. At 75.9 billion euros in constant 2018 prices, Horizon Europe will grow less than necessary. Equally unpleaseant is the creeping decline of knowledge-oriented research in the broader context of EU programmes. The increase in funding through the "Next Generation EU" plan for health research, the "Green Deal" and the digital future of 5 billion euros is to be welcomed. Research in Europe will be able to benefit from this. However, this budget increase is far from sufficient to ensure Europe's future competitiveness in the world. A significant increase in the EU research budget would have been necessary to send a signal, as the vast majority of EU countries are far from the agreed target of investing three percent of gross domestic product in R&I.

Following the EU summit, the EU Parliament is called upon to further strengthen its commitment to a sustainably structured European Research Area in which solidarity and competition are living European values by expanding the funding instruments in Horizon Europe. In particular, the gradual reduction of knowledge research in the broad range of EU programmes must be counteracted. The successes of the previous European Research Framework Programmes must be continued through European programmes such as the European Research Council (ERC), the opening of Europe-wide career paths, the networking and cooperation of research institutions, a cross-programme quality orientation or the strengthening of promising research regions in Europe.

The Max Planck Society therefore supports the European Parliament's demand to considerably increase the budget of Horizon Europe beyond the EU Council’s compromise from 20. July 2020, especially in view of the corona pandemic. Europe cannot afford to do without the potential of well-trained researchers or even to fall behind in the global competition in research at the highest level. European solidarity is important. But so is maintaining Europe's future competitiveness. Even in difficult times, the priority must be to give priority to funding research and innovation. Our joint knowledge base is Europe's raw material and is an indispensable prerequisite for competitiveness, growth and jobs.

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