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08 Jun 2018

Commissioner Moedas outlines next FP Horizon Europe in interview

Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas has outlined the main priorities of Horizon Europe, the next Framework Programme, and his ideas on what it should achieve, in an interview with Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.

Mr. Moedas' headline is that Horizon Europe should connect the public to European science and its achievements. The proposal for Horizon Europe shows continuity with Horizon 2020 but also some new elements such as the establishment of a European Innovation Council (EIC) to promote innovation and the introduction of mission-oriented research.

Commissioner Moedas outlines the ideas behind the EIC, saying Europe is very good at fundamental research, but not so good at funding innovation, so the EIC should provide bottom-up support in this field. The concept of missions should help to communicate better what European science and research is doing, and for what purpose, e.g. to cure some diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Missions are "a way of linking Horizon Europe with the people", but they are only a part of Horizon Europe. Mr. Moedas states that it is difficult to decide today on missions for the years 2021 to 2027, so the EC decided to select a group of criteria for choosing these missions. There will be mission boards of 10 to 15 people involving the Member States, stakeholder groups, and experts, who should then decide on missions on the basis of these criteria.

Asked whether there is a danger that Horizon Europe is too business-oriented at the expense of basic research, the Commissioner stresses that there is still a very strong focus on fundamental science: "We have been talking a little bit more in the past couple of months about innovation because we don’t do it well. And we don’t need to speak that much about fundamental science because we are doing it very well".

Asked further, how big the increase in funding compared to Horizon 2020 actually is for Horizon Europe, Mr. Moedas explains the EC's view on this: "Horizon 2020 was around €77 billion. If you subtract the United Kingdom, because the United Kingdom was a big part of the programme, that would be €67 billion. And today the programme we are putting forward is €100 billion. €100 billion for 27 countries compared with €67 billion for 27 countries." He sees the main budget increases in the ERC, in the fields of climate and energy, food and natural resources, and digital, and the EIC.

With regard to possible participation of the UK in Horizon Europe, Mr. Moedas reiterates the EU's official stance that the UK will be considered a third country, and only if there is an overall EU agreement, there can be an agreement on R&I cooperation. He also indicates that the EC is talking about changing rules for third countries in general, to allow more countries to participate. The Commissioner is confident that Europe is an attractive place to be for talented researchers, given the turmoil in many other parts of the world. On the issue of low success rates in the Framework Programme, Carlos Moeadas thinks that the budget increase will help, as will the intended synergies between Horizon Europe and the Structural Funds.

To read the full Horizon Magazine interview with Mr. Moedas, click here.

Photo: Commissioner Moedas (by EC)

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