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Gearing up for the battle

Inga Vesper and Tania Rabesandratana talk to three European Parliament rapporteurs about Horizon 2020.

Teresa Riera Madurell, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Spain

What is your favourite feature of Horizon 2020?

For the first time in the EU’s research funding programme, Horizon 2020 considers the whole innovation chain, from fundamental research to the market.

What’s the worst part?

We struggle to define how objectives relate to priorities, and this has consequences on the internal distribution of the budget between the three pillars and the grand challenges.

What’s missing?

The relative weight of collaborative projects is smaller than I expected, especially since previous evaluations showed that medium-sized collaborative projects are the best-functioning instrument.

The trickiest part of the negotiations will be?

The budget. The Parliament will stay faithful to the €100 billion it has demanded. This is not a whim, but a reasonable figure if we want Europe to be a world power in R&D and innovation.

Your message to member states?

Parliament will remain open to negotiation but will remain firm in what it believes necessary to enable growth and rapid exit from the crisis. We cannot afford to be faint hearted.

If you were Barroso for a day, what would you do?

I would make sure the Commission goes back to playing a role as an engine of European integration in these times of economic crisis, which is also a crisis of political credibility.

What’s your motivational motto?

Building for excellence.

Marisa Matias, European United Left, Portugal

What is your favourite feature of Horizon 2020?

Having researchers from different countries working together for the same common purposes. This is the way of developing our capacities.

What’s the worst part?

It is too market-oriented. The best solutions aren’t necessarily converted into short-term profitable investments. I am also concerned with the secondary role of social sciences, humanities and fundamental research.

What’s missing?

The narrative of cohesion. We need stairways towards excellence without losing the aim of being better as a whole.

The trickiest part of the negotiations will be?

The political technicalities. Sometimes there’s a temptation to ignore the political dimension of negotiations.

Your message to member states is?

We will lose our best capacities if we do not create decent conditions of work and access to funding for those who are part of the scientific system.

If you were Barroso for a day, what would you do?

I would leave the office and meet scientists in different contexts and different conditions. If we put people first, the results will come after.

What’s your motivational motto?

We mustn’t fail the opportunity to deepen one of the best European public programmes.

Christian Ehler, European People’s Party, Germany

What is your favourite feature of Horizon 2020?

Its clear commitment to simplification, innovation and growth.

What’s the worst part?

The overhasty budget increase for the EIT—Barroso is creating a white elephant.

What’s missing?

A number of things, most importantly an option for the full-cost accounting model and the acknowledgement of ‘civil security’ as a specific societal challenge.

The trickiest part of the negotiations will be?

To achieve a truly adequate budget and, closely related to that challenge, to obtain separate EU budget lines for GMES, Iter and Galileo.

Your message to member states?

The “Europe 2020” growth strategy will undoubtedly fail unless member states commit to a substantial increase in R&D investment.

If you were Barroso for a day, what would you do?

Increase Horizon 2020’s budget to €100 billion, as the Parliament has repeatedly called for.

What’s your motivational motto?

Bailout funds are first aid supplies—proper investment in R&D is the only way to achieve sustainable economic growth.