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  • Research into Societal Challenges lacks funding

    (photo: Willtron)

    (photo: Willtron)

    - European organisations are calling for the restoration of €2.2 billion, now invested in the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), in the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Research into Societal Challenge should once again play an important role in the European plans.

    This month the Slovakian presidency of Europe has opened a public consultation about the Horizon 2020 programme. The input given should lead to an interim evaluation of the programme which is said to be presented in July 2017. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the European Parliament’s research committee both expressed the wish to restore the €2.2 billion now earmarked for EFSI.

    Indispensable collaboration

    “The EESC welcomes Horizon 2020 as a strong and successful programme that brings together excellence, joint research infrastructures, collaboration across borders as well as synergies between academia, industry, SMEs and research organisations,” the EESC writes. This kind of collaboration is indispensable, according to the committee.

    One of the main concerns of the EESC is the reduction of funding for research into Societal Challenges. “Many success stories of EU-wide research collaboration from FP6 and FP7 ended with Horizon 2020. Collaborative research should once again play a role as an indispensable element in the research and innovation chain.”

    In order to secure enough funding for this kind of research, the EES calls “for a careful evaluation to find a reasonable balance between the three funding pillars: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges. This evaluation should take into account their differences in terms of impact, lead times, leverage effects and, in particular, their specific EU-added values.”

    Large disparities between countries

    In its evaluation of the Horizon 2020 programme, the EESC also notes a large disparity between the amount national funding for research and innovation. According to the committee, this “has led to large differences in success with regard to receiving EU funding.”