ERC critical of Council President's budget proposal
The European Research Council(s) Scientific Council has issued a statement expressing its dissatisfaction with the most recent proposal for the EU's long-term budget by Council President Charles Michel. According to the statement, the Scientific Council has "watched with dismay" the continuous decrease of ambitions for Horizon Europe, from a budget of “at least €120 billion” in the Lamy Report of 2017, to €94 billion in the proposal of the European Commission (EC) of 2018, to €86 billion in the latest "negotiating box" of the President of the European Council. The ERC states that if agreed, this figure would mean that, in real terms, there would be no increase to the core research and innovation budget of the EU for the first time ever.
The Scientific Council refers to the role of research in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and addressing unexpected future challenges, as well as its importance for the green and digital transitions and states that the Scientific Council members "cannot imagine that Europe’s leaders can agree to this". They also warn against the danger of focusing too much on short-term results by "additional frontloaded funding for certain targeted areas through the Recovery Instrument", and stress the importance of providing support for long-term research and innovation.
The ERC stresses that "ensuring a proper balance between fundamental research, driven by investigator-led excellence, and more focused, mission-oriented research is therefore critical". The statement concludes with an appeal to Europe's leaders: "Europe faces many unprecedented challenges. We understand that some very difficult decisions need to be taken. But we believe that now is the time to send a message of hope to our citizens and trust in the new generation. A message that Europe can not only survive, but also thrive in the years ahead because it organises its scientific endeavours using a balanced, forward looking and evidence-based approach. To do this we must engage head on in the race to develop the latest scientific knowledge and technologies. Europe has already shown that it knows how to do that. It must bring it to another level in the next seven year period."
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