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Young academies express ‘grave concern’ about EU R&D budget

Groups representing early career researchers urge governments to reverse planned budget cuts

Young academies, which represent early career researchers, have added their voices to those calling for the next EU R&D programme, Horizon Europe, to get a bigger slice of the 2021-27 EU budget.

In an open letter published on 14 September, 19 of the groups said they have “grave” and “deep” concerns about EU member state governments’ plan for Horizon Europe to get a budget of €80.9 billion, rather than the €94.4bn proposed by the European Commission.

“This will have devastating consequences and carry significant risks of marginalising Europe’s research and innovation potential, affecting in particular scientific collaboration and the emergence of new science leaders,” the letter says.

“It will hinder fundamental research in particular, which is at the basis of new knowledge that will inspire practical applications and solutions to real-life problems.”

The academies called on governments to restore the funding proposed by the Commission, and to prioritise the first pillar of the programme, which is focused on fundamental research and includes the European Research Council.

MEPs are pushing for governments to raise planned spending for Horizon Europe, in talks that will continue for several weeks.

On 8 September, the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte—one of a quartet of national leaders known as the “frugal four” who pushed for lower EU spending—said in the Dutch parliament that he could accept an increase to the Horizon Europe budget, but only if there is no overall increase in the 2021-27 EU budget beyond what governments have agreed.