Statement ahead of final Horizon Europe talks says seven-year budget for fundamental research is ‘insufficient’
The governing Scientific Council of the European Research Council, the EU’s most prestigious research funder, has sought to rally support for a last-minute push to increase the budget allocated to the ERC in the EU’s 2021-27 R&D programme, Horizon Europe.
In a statement published on 7 December, the council of eminent researchers said the ERC has been provisionally allocated €14.9 billion in current prices for the duration of the programme.
It said that unless this is increased using a €4 billion top-up for Horizon Europe agreed on 10 November, the ERC budget will undergo “a freeze…for the seven years to come (except for a yearly 2 per cent increase for inflation) at a level slightly below the 2020 budget reduced to 27 countries (after the UK departure)”.
The council warned that funding under such a freeze would be “insufficient” because, due to lack of funds, the ERC currently has to reject about 30 per cent of the proposals it receives that are evaluated as excellent. It said the “absolutely minimal” amount needed to avoid stagnation is €16.6 billion.
Negotiators for the European Parliament and Council of the EU are due to discuss the final unresolved aspects of Horizon Europe on 10 December. The ERC council urged “all people who care for the future of frontier research in Europe to express their views by all means before it is too late”.
The final formal talk on Horizon Europe is scheduled for the same day that national leaders will attempt to break an impasse on the overall 2021-27 EU budget, which is being blocked by Hungary and Poland over new conditions requiring states to respect the rule of law. Unless that stalemate is resolved, the start of Horizon Europe is set to be delayed.