Horizon 2020 – the new European Research Framework Programme

On 29 June 2011, the European Commission published it’s proposals for the EU budget from 2014 to 2020; part of these proposals is Horizon 2020, the new Research Framework Programme.

In a move that anticipated the publication of this document, QCEA joined a group of 98 civil society and research organisations from 22 European countries in sending an open letter to European Commission President Barroso which highlights the shortcomings of the current Research Framework Programme, sets out the priorities we see for the next one and makes 5 concrete recommendations which should be included in Horizon 2020:

• Overcome the myth that only highly complex and cost intensive technologies can create sustainability, employment and well-being, and focus on tangible solutions to environmental, economic and societal challenges instead.
• Ensure that the concept of innovation includes locally adapted and social forms of innovation as well as technological development, and facilitate cooperation and knowledge exchange between civil society
organisations and academia in order to realise the innovative
potential of the non-profit sector;
• Establish a democratic, participatory and accountable decisionmaking
process for research funding allocation, free from conflicts of
interest and industry dominance, and enable civil society to play a full
part in both setting the EU research agenda and participating in all EU research programmes;
• Ensure that all experts advising EU research policy-makers are appointed in a transparent manner to provide impartial and independent expertise, free from conflicts of interests; replace industry-dominated advisory groups and technology platforms with bodies that provide a balanced representation of views and stakeholders;
• Ensure that publicly funded research benefits wider society by systematically requiring equitable access licensing and encouraging open source access policies in the next Common Strategic Framework.

You can read the letter on QCEA’s website.

It is anticipated that for the period 2014 to 2020 there will be € 80 billion available for research from the Horizon 2020 programme; compared to the current Research Framework Programme (funded at around € 50.5 billion) this represents a substantial increase.

There is still much to do: the detail behind the headline figure – how this is to be split between different headings and themes – is yet to be proposed, discussed and decided; at a conference of researchers on 6 July 2011, QCEA learned that there is a possibility that the very small budget for socio-economic sciences and humanities (allocated € 623 over 7 years million in the current Research Framework Programme) could disappear alltogether with the aim of ‘mainstreaming’ these areas of research into all the other programmes.

QCEA will continue to work on this issue with our colleagues with whom we jointly sent the letter and we will continue to advocate for a decrease in the research funding for security related technology and for and increase in the funding for research that focuses on tangible solutions to environmental, economic and societal challenges instead.

About Martina Weitsch

Martina worked for Quaker Council for European Affairs as one of two Joint Representatives from 2002 to October 2012. Her main areas of work were the EU role in Palestine/Israel, EU peacebuilding, conflict prevention and crisis management, EU finances, democratic accountability and relations with the European Investment Bank.

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