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Denmark pushing for May agreement on overall structure of Horizon 2020

Denmark aims to reach a so-called “partial general agreement” on the structure and scope of Horizon 2020, the follow-up programme to Framework 7, by May this year, Research Europe has learned.

The agreement would set the Council of Ministers’ opinion on Horizon 2020 in stone, and form the basis for future negotiations with the European Parliament and the European Commission. A fully fledged proposal for Horizon 2020, which starts in 2014, was published by the Commission on 30 November, and is now under negotiation at the Council, which represents all European member states.

“It is our main priority to reach partial general agreement on Horizon 2020,” says Lise Lotte Toft, the chief adviser at the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation. “We would like to push this through, so we can tell the European Parliament that we agree on the overall structure.” Toft admits that this goal is ambitious.

To achieve it, however, the Danish EU presidency, which started on 1 January and will run for six months, has split the negotiation process into several packages. Euratom, the nuclear research budget, will be discussed separately from Horizon 2020’s structure.

Negotiations on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology have also been split into the EIT’s strategic innovation agenda and its governance, to make the discussions more manageable. Another separate issue will be the alignment of the EIT’s innovation agenda with the Europe 2020 objectives to promote growth and jobs in the EU.

To get these negotiations going Denmark is hosting a closed ministerial meeting on Horizon 2020 in Copenhagen on 1 February. “We have also invited representatives from the US and China,” says Toft.

Denmark has chosen the bioeconomy as its prominent scientific field for the country’s presidency. The subject is expected to be discussed during the next Competitiveness Council, which is taking place on 12 and 22 February in Copenhagen. But Toft says that Denmark will not seek to get the Council to concentrate excessively on this one area. “When you have a presidency you should really find the common European consensus on the proposal, so we are not lobbying for special Danish interests,” she says.

The Danish presidency was preceded by Poland and will be followed by Cyprus. The three countries are working together on the agendas for their respective terms under the usual presidency ‘troika’ system.