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Horizon 2020 needs €85 billion, says Euroscience

European leaders should back their own ambitions and increase the Horizon 2020 allocation to €85 billion in upcoming budget negotiations, according to the grassroots scientists’ group Euroscience.

The organisation has written to the presidents of the European Council and the Commission calling on them to “put their money where their mouth is”, and honour their commitment to economic growth in Europe by investing in Horizon 2020.

The letter, signed by Euroscience’s president, Lauritz Holm-Nielsen, and its secretary general, Peter Tindemans, calls on EU leaders to increase the budget allocation for Horizon 2020 to €85 billion using money from other areas. This plea follows indications that the allocation for Horizon 2020 is likely to be decreased, from the €80 billion proposed by the Commission to less than €70 billion in favour of spending for agriculture and cohesion.

Euroscience warns that any decrease in the Horizon 2020 budget from the €80 billion proposed will have significant negative consequences for the EU. “Horizon 2020 holds many promises with its greater focus, but they will only be realised when the budget is commensurate with the ambitions,” writes the group. In particular, sufficient investment will be vital to allow Europe to compete with growing economies in Asia, says Euroscience.

The letter also cites the support for a petition against a reduction for Horizon 2020, which has so far received around 153,000 signatures, and a campaign by Nobel laureates as evidence of the “disastrous” implications of cuts.

Last week, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy announced that heads of state will meet on 7 and 8 February to discuss the overall EU budget from 2014 to 2020, which EU officials say means he believes an agreement is within reach.