Towards 2021: excellence vs. cohesion<p>Negotiations from the side of the European Parliament (EP) and the Council started full speed for Horizon Europe.</p><p>As expected, both the EP and the Council started to work on the proposals of the European Commission (EC) for Horizon Europe (<a title="SwissCore article" href="https://www.swisscore.org/Pages/Detail.aspx?CrmId={8EE32387-186E-E811-80CB-005056B7191C}&ContentType=scArticle">published</a> 7 June) and for Erasmus (<a title="SwissCore article" href="https://www.swisscore.org/Pages/Detail.aspx?CrmId={9851F508-DD64-E811-80CB-005056B7191C}&ContentType=scArticle">published</a> 30 May). For Horizon Europe, the speed of treatment is high: the EP <a title="EP draft report Dan Nica" href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&reference=PE-625.305&format=PDF&language=EN&secondRef=01" target="_blank">draft report</a> for the Horizon Europe Regulation (Rapporteur: Dan Nica, Romania, SND) was already published on 18 July.</p> <p> </p> <p>Overall, the changes (‘amendments’) proposed by the draft report aim at having a programme more centered around Member States (MS) of the European Union (EU) and at guaranteeing a better return for the ‘new MS’, which joined the EU in 2004, 2010 and 2013 respectively (the so-called EU-13). Phrases such as “reduce R&I divide”; “geographical coverage/balance”; “EU added value”; “within and/or for the Union” ; “by priority in the Union”; “safeguarding EU’s economic interests” are to be found in numerous amendments. It is also proposed that new evaluation criteria favouring EU MS and EU-13 MS could apply where necessary and that salaries are calculated on a single scale valid for all researchers participating in programmes, regardless of the researcher's country of origin or the location of the research organisation. Furthermore – and most strikingly – excellence is not the sole criterion for the European Research Council (ERC) anymore. Finally, as it is proposed in the report, third countries – except members of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates, as well as countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy – would not be able to coordinate actions, nor to take part in mono-beneficary parts of the programme (i.e. ERC, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowships, Accelerator of the European Innovation Council).</p> <p> </p> <p>Other changes worth noting from the report are the following: first, the EP proposes to increase the budget to €120 billion. A substantial increase goes to MSCA (€11,3 billion instead of €6,8 billion) and to spreading excellence/widening participation (€6 billion instead of €1,7 billion). The Europeqn Innovation Council (EIC) suffers budget cuts (from €10 to €9 billion). Second, a dedicated instrument for the incremental innovation targeted at SMEs shall be created, with a budget of €800 million. Third, 'Cluster 2' (inclusive and secure societies) is split into two clusters: inclusive and creative societies and secure societies (of which the latter gets the biggest part of the budget). Fourth, at least €3 billion coming from the Clusters ‘Digital and Industry’ should support the continuation of FET-Flagships.</p> <p> </p> <p>The report on the Horizon Europe Specific Programme (Rapporteur: Christian Ehler, Germany, EPP) was <a title="EP draft report" href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+COMPARL+PE-625.306+01+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN" target="_blank">published</a> on 24 July. The following elements are worth noting: first, the report sets a stronger focus on collaborative research by ‘including early stage researchers’ in the ‘clusters’ (Pillar II) of Horizon Europe and by extending the pathfinder instrument under the EIC to collaborative research (as is the case under the current FET-Open instrument). Second, the report proposes to open the ERC Proof-of-Concept to all researchers (not only ERC grantees). Third, the report extensively describes the strategic R&I planning process and strengthens the involvement of stakeholders' organisations. </p> <p> </p> <p>Members of the EP (MEPs) have until 6 September to react to both reports and propose new amendments. The amendments they submit will be influenced by the position of their countries (see <a title="ERA portal AT" href="https://era.gv.at/object/document/2871" target="_blank">list</a> of position papers) as well as of European R&I stakeholders (see <a title="ScienceBusiness live Blog" href="https://sciencebusiness.net/framework-programmes/news/live-blog-reactions-horizon-europe" target="_blank">compilation</a> by ScienceBusiness of reactions to the Horizon Europe proposal). R&I stakeholders (e.g. <a title="statement by 14 universities associations" href="http://eua.be/Libraries/publications-homepage-list/universities-united-for-the-best-horizon-europe?utm_source=EUA+Newsletter+Masterlist&utm_campaign=f089c56b0f-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_14_09_32&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e5bafc1323-f089c56b0f-&utm_source=Press+List&utm_campaign=7209b7d47a-Press-Release-PFO-12-12-2017_COPY_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f7a5b1f394-7209b7d47a-59034541" target="_blank">14 European associations</a> representing universities, <a title="SE reaction" href="https://www.scienceeurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/20180608-SE_Horizon_Europe_Reaction.pdf" target="_blank">Science Europe</a>) have so far defended an increase of budget for the whole programme, as well as a review of the budget allocation to make sure that the MSCA and the ERC receive a more substantial budget increase.</p> <p> </p> <p>Further statements and proposals for amendments will follow, in reaction of the EP draft report – and one can surely expect strong reactions defending the excellence principle from R&I stakeholders. On the side of the Council, a first <a title="Council press release" href="http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/36200/press-release-research-compet_17-7.pdf?utm_source=DSMS&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=informal+research+17072018&utm_term=952.2429.23719.0.2429&utm_content=Press+material" target="_blank">exchange</a> between Research Ministers took place during the Informal Competitiveness Council in Vienna on 17 July. Ministers also clearly supported the continuation of the ERC and MSCA, and questions were raised as to a stronger budgetary weighting for both these activities. During the meeting, it was made clear that MS want to be more strongly included in the strategic planning process of Horizon Europe. Short presidency <a title="Conclusions strategic planning" href="https://era.gv.at/object/document/4223/attach/Informal_Council_17072018-_Presidency_Conclusions_on_strategic_planning.pdf" target="_blank">conclusions</a> were issued on how MS view their role in this process and what should be the timeline. The strategic planning process will indeed be the one determining among others the topics for the first Missions, as well as for the European partnerships – and it will as such have links with the national research landscapes.</p> <p> </p> <p>For now, the objective of the EP and the Council remains to achieve a final agreement on the Horizon Europe Regulation until the end of this year. This would mean that the trilogue between EC, EP and Council takes place until the EP elections in May 2019, under Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. We now have to wait until after the summer break to see if the pace of negotiations lives up to the current speed and if the planed schedule can be respected. For Erasmus, the same schedule has been proposed, but it could be very tight, at least from the side of the EP, as the draft report will be on the table mid-October only.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p>Horizon Europe, EP report, Council, excellence, third countries, negotiationshttps://www.swisscore.org/Lists/Public/Article/DispForm.aspx?ID=10272018-07-19T22:00:00ZscArticle{FAC14FD4-158C-E811-80CF-005056B7191C}https://www.swisscore.org/Lists/Public/ArticleImages/europe-at-night-from-space-nasa.jpg, https://www.swisscore.org/Lists/Public/ArticleImages/europe-at-night-from-space-nasa.jpg