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Campaign aims to double budget of EU R&I programme

 Image: Malorny, via Getty Images

University associations and funders among groups backing campaign for more investment

A campaign has been launched to advocate for doubling the budget of the EU’s next research and innovation programme.

The budget for the EU’s 2021-27 R&I funding programme, Horizon Europe, is €93.5 billion. As the European Commission has started drawing up plans for the successor scheme, which will start in 2028, many in the R&I sector have been calling for an increased budget, with €200 billion being a popular figure.

Now these calls from separate R&I actors have been unified into one campaign. The Research Matters campaign was launched on 13 May to advocate for doubling and ringfencing the budget for the EU’s next research programme, currently known as Framework Programme 10.

The campaign also calls for increased funding for R&I more generally so that the EU and “all European countries” reach the bloc’s long-standing and long-missed goal of spending 3 per cent of its GDP on R&I.

Mobilising the sector

The campaign is a collaboration between universities, research organisations, funding agencies, industry partners and communications professionals across Europe.

Organisations behind it include the Cesaer group of science and technology universities, the Coimbra Group of multidisciplinary universities, the European University Association, the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities, the League of European Research Universities (Leru) and the Young European Research Universities Network.

Science Europe, which represents European research funding and performing organisations, is also backing the campaign, as is the European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities. The campaign is being hosted by the European Association of Communication Professionals in Higher Education.

Aiming for influence

The campaign seeks to reach decision-makers, citizens and the media at the local, national and European levels.

Its website says it is “dedicated to mobilising and uniting” the R&I community and aims to “raise awareness of the crucial role research plays in shaping our future and addressing global challenges”.

Mattias Björnmalm, secretary-general of Cesaer, called on his followers on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, to “share the message” of the campaign and “urge” their local politicians at home and those wanting to become MEPs in the June European election to “boost support for R&I”.

Kurt Deketelaere, secretary-general of Leru, said of the campaign that a “ringfenced budget of €200bn for FP10 is the goal, with clear reinforcement of the European Research Council and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions”, which fund basic research and researcher training and mobility, respectively.