After long negotiation between European Union leaders agreeing on the next seven year budget for the Union, the final figure of €70.2 billion has been agreed upon for the research programme Horizon 2020. Although this total is 23% more than allocated for the current framework programme FP7, the first instalment planned for 2014 of €8.8 billion is actually less than the allocated funding in 2013.
During the negotiations a number of demands by the European Parliament were met. These included: a bottom-up Fast Track to Innovation pilot mechanism to allow for small innovative projects to be funded at any time; reduced administrative burden; a dedicated budget line for “widening participation” to assist smaller research groups in countries with less experience in EU project participation.
The budgetary negotiations did not make any change to the overall structure which remains built upon the three Pillars of “Excellence in the science base”, “Creating industrial leadership and competitive frameworks”, and “Societal Challenges”.
Although the budget still requires formal endorsement by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, Horizon 2020 remains on track to start in 2014.
An official Statement from Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, on the conclusion of negotiations on Horizon 2020 can be seen on the European Commission website, and in a previous e-EPS news item on Horizon 2020.
At a glance, what we can expect from Horizon 2020 includes:
- 17% of funding for the European Research Council;
- Mandatory open access publication of results;
- 20% of the overall budget allocated to SMEs;
- A bottom-up mechanism for small innovative projects to be funded at any time;
- Synergies between Horizon 2020 and the EU Structural Funds to support less-performing regions;
- Shortened time to grant, greater acceptance of beneficiaries’ accounting practices, reduced administrative burden;
- Abandoning full cost reimbursement and retaining only a single flat rate model.