Horizon Europe et al.

On 29 September, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, twitted happily that “habemos consensus”: The Council agreed on the Horizon Europe Regulation text and budget.

It increased the overall budget in comparison to its July suggestion. In current prices, it is €90.9 billion, of which €85.5 billion will come from the 2021 – 2027 long term budget. The rest is from the new pandemic recovery fund, a temporary scheme running from 2021 – 2024 to fund top-down projects that tackle the pandemic and the economic crisis.

One issue is worth noting: While all parts of Horizon Europe were cut, one sub-programme enjoyed an increase of 200MEUR: The Marie Curie action. One argument in favour of the increase seems rather precarious in times of COVID: “With the additional budget, MSCA could fund more than 1,000 stays abroad for EU researchers”. But this is not all. The suggestion to finance these 200 MEUR in taking bits and pieces from all other sub-programmes, an option Commissioner for research, Mariya Gabriel would have favoured, ministers decided to take it from the – new – EIC, the European Innovation Council. So much for fostering innovation…

But it’s not all done yet. The European Parliament, insatiable when it concerns budget distribution, will still have a word to say. Main Committee is ITRE, the Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. It is also in charge of all other programmes, with some other associated Committees. Our MEPs will have to work hard to finish all before the end of the year so that they can start in time on 1 January 2021.

Here are two other funding programmes relevant for the digital economy that will have to pass through the European Parliament before the end of the year:

Digital Europe, that will deal with the EU’s  Digital Agenda, comprising topics like: Supercomputing, Artificial Intelligence, cyber security, digital skills and the digital transformation in the public sector.

CEF2 – the successor of the Connecting Europe Facility, the large infrastructure programme with a special “digital envelope”. The new proposal foresees funding percentages between 30% (“works”) to 50% (“studies”) which makes it not realistic for the private sector, in particular SMEs.

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