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Horizon 2020 success rates could drop if draft budget goes ahead, say universities

The European University Association has warned that the European Commission’s plan to reduce the EU budget deficit could further exacerbate the low success rates of applications under Horizon 2020.

On 27 May, the Commission released its draft 2016 budget, which proposes a 2 per cent cut in spending commitments for Horizon 2020 compared with 2015, leaving them at €9.3 billion. The figure for payments, however, would rise by nearly 12 per cent to €10.1bn. This is part of a move to address a backlog of payments that has been accumulating since 2007, because of the EU’s tradition of committing more money than it will actually spend.

The deficit reached €24.7bn across the budget as a whole in 2014, and in September the then research commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn warned that this could result in 40 per cent of Horizon 2020 commitments remaining unpaid at the end of the programme in 2020. By redressing the balance between payments and commitments, the Commission hopes to ensure that Horizon 2020 will reach its “full speed of implementation”, according to a spokeswoman.

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