EU Plans Research Budget

Under new plans to reduce the European Union’s overall spending, science funding did relatively well, but research leaders want more—and they may well get it.

By | February 12, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, JULIEN JORGELast week, when the European Union’s 27 member states agreed to reduce the organization’s overall budget for 2014-2020, the section including research spending came out with a boost of around 37 percent, reported ScienceInsider. On the face of it, that’s a good outcome for European science, but research leaders had been lobbying for more.

Under the new budget, the main science-funding program—known as Horizon 2020—would receive €70.96 billion (US$95.4 billion). But the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, had proposed €80 billion (US$108 billion) and research leaders have argued that such a figure is the minimum required for the success of Horizon 2020, which includes several new initiatives not funded by the EU’s current science-funding program.

“Our feeling is that €80 billion is required to deliver on the ambitious and exciting proposal that the commission presented,” Paul Boyle, the chief executive of the United Kingdom's Economic and Social Research Council and president of the national science funding organization Science Europe, told ScienceInsider. “Anything other than that is disappointing news from Science Europe's perspective.”

Outside of the budget for Horizon 2020, the EU also plans to fund three major research infrastructure projects: the Galileo global positioning satellite system (€6.3 billion); the ITER fusion reactor (€2.7 billion); and the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) Earth-observing program (€3.79 billion).

The budget has yet to be approved by the European Parliament, which had proposed €100 billion for Horizon 2020. Leaders of several of the largest parties said they would stand firm on several points in the budget, including the “strengthening of research and competitiveness,” so the current plan for science funding may yet be modified.

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