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Cuts to Horizon 2020 Budget

Following the announcement last year by the President of the European Commission of a ‘European Fund for Strategic Investments’ designed to stimulate the European economy, in January 2015 it materialised that of the €21 billion committed to the stimulus package, € 2.7 billion would be taken from the Horizon 2020 budget (which is around €80 billion) over 5 years.

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This fund, expected to be adopted in June following the approval by the Parliament and Council, had created great concern for research communities across the EU and the scientific community had been lobbying to reduce the contribution of research funds to the stimulus package.

The biggest cuts are towards the first and second pillars of Horizon 2020 funding (Excellent Science and Industrial leadership), which encompass the European Research Council (ERC), future and emerging technologies, biotechnologies and others. The ERC, which will lose €221 million mostly in 2016 and 2017, have pioneered basic research and are a key funding mechanism for small projects as well as funding research that bridges the gap between early research and marketable innovations.

While there has been no mention of cuts to the third pillar, societal challenges (which includes ‘Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing’), a more detailed breakdown of how funding cuts will effect each pillar of Horizon 2020 funding is due to be shared by the Commission in response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Mr. Joao Ferreira MEP (GUE/NGL).

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