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09 Feb 2018

Science|Business: Commission floating new ideas for the next research programme

Article by Science|Business, Éanna Kelly and Richard L. Hudson

Fast-changing draft of next EU Framework Programme highlights Macron’s plan for ‘disruptive innovation’ and bridging east-west research divide – but nothing is finalised yet

In an apparent effort to broaden political support for its next research programme, the European Commission has been floating some ideas on disruptive innovation and research cooperation that could appeal to key member-states.

A Commission slide presentation circulating around Brussels this week suggests that Framework Programme 9, to start in 2021, could include a new funding agency for disruptive innovation with a similar title as one proposed recently by French President Emmanuel Macron. Also, the plan could put emphasis on a portion of the programme it calls “spreading excellence” – following calls by east European members to spend more money on boosting science and technology capabilities across the EU.

A proviso on the proposals, which are undated and presented in rough form on three slides, say they are a work in progress and “not legally binding” – and in fact, it appears that the draft plans are changing by the day as Commission officials discuss their ideas with growing numbers of stakeholders.

A spokesman for Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas said “the Commissioner cannot comment on the proposals. There are lots on the table.”

But the ideas, however tentative, reflect the intense stage of programme drafting now underway in Brussels, as Commission officials rush towards their self-imposed deadline of publishing broad EU budget plans by May 30. With the UK, a big research supporter, leaving the bloc next year, the wishes of east European members will become more prominent – and they have long complained they don’t get enough benefit from EU research and innovation programmes. At the same time, President Macron has emerged as a strong – but very opinionated – advocate for EU research. The slides appear to reflect some preliminary efforts to balance the varied interests.

To read the full Science|Business article, click here.

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