After a long negotiations between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, a circa €70 billion package has been agreed for Horizon 2020, the latest framework programme for research and innovation.
Even though the initial rate differentiation was rejected by the Council, the agreement is widely seen as a win by the European Parliament, most of whose demands were met including:
- A dedicated SME instrument to boost innovation in Europe’s businesses
- A fast track to innovation into the programme. According Christian Ehler MEP (EPP, Germany), this bottom-up mechanism will allow for small innovative projects to be funded at any time.
- Dedicated measures were introduced to widen participation, such as teaming and twinning initiatives, networking measures and “return grants”.
- Synergies between Horizon 2020 and the EU Structural Funds will support investments in the R&D infrastructures of less-well performing regions.
- A shortened time for grants, a greater acceptance of the beneficiaries' accounting practices, and a reduced administrative burden.
On the side of the European Commission, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn welcomed the conclusions of the negotiations on the Horizon 2020 package as “good news for researchers, for universities, for SMEs, and for all other future participants in the programme”. The Commissioner further stated that the new package could provide solutions for societal challenges and strengthening industrial competitiveness.
A press release from DG Research and Innovation on this topic is available here.