The EU Summit achieved an agreement on the next EU budget and a corona recovery fund. Despite many positive ambitions and the visible joint effort, the resolution remained below expectations, in spite of an increase, in one key issue for the future, the ‘Horizon Europe’ research programme. And especially in a phase in which many people are turning to cutting-edge research for answers.
From the €94 billion for research and innovation in the proposal of the European Commission of 2018, what remains in the current budget is €81 billion for the ‘Horizon Europe’ research programme. For many European research funding organisations, including the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), this budget remains, despite an increase, below expectations. A more significant increase in investment would be necessary to establish and maintain Europe’s position as a top competitor and world leader in leading-edge research.
“While political leaders and society are relying on the skills of Europe’s researchers to get the ongoing global pandemic under control and to prepare Europe for unexpected future challenges, the budget remains, despite all the positive signals, below expectations in the eyes of leading-edge research,” said FWF President Klement Tockner. Already at the moment, there are many excellent national and international research projects that cannot be implemented.
Research and innovation require balanced support. Besides ensuring the necessary short-term results, research policy is also responsible for the great task of making provisions today for future challenges and providing the next generation of researchers with promising career opportunities. Key technologies, which boost Europe’s economy and assist in the transformation of society, are the direct result of long-term, publicly funded cutting-edge research. The fact that so many treatments and potential vaccines for Covid-19 are now being developed at record speed around the world is a testament to the groundwork laid by generations of researchers. The current budget resolution would deprive Europe of the opportunity to continue this success story.
The grant funding of the European Union, in addition to the funds provided by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), is one of the main sources of funding for Austrian leading-edge research. Austria is striving to join the ranks of Europe’s leading countries for innovation such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. This is also the reason why the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is committed to expanding not only the national, but also the European research funding system.
Science Europe's reaction to the European Council's proposal for the European budget