MEP Soledad Cabezón Ruiz: a budget of 120 billion for the new Horizon 2020

Soledad CABEZÓN RUIZ - © European Union 2017 - Source : EPMEP Soledad Cabezón Ruiz talked on the Report "Assessment of Horizon 2020 implementation", recently approved by the European Parliament.

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Could you give us some figures of the Horizon 2020 programs and its main achievements given its interim evaluation?

The first idea to be highlighted is that the EU Framework Programme for research is a huge success, with over 130 000 proposals received, 9 000 grants signed, 50 000 participations and around 15 billion EU funding.

The second one is that the average success rates are substantially lower in H2020 than in FP7. In Horizon 2020, about one in four high-quality proposals submitted was selected for funding. This means that around 77% of successful projects could not be funded.

This is the reason, I have asked to increase the budget for FP9 to 120 billion euros.

What is your overall personal assessment of the Horizon 2020 implementation?

In general, the program is a success and brings clear added value to the EU, but there are still some possibilities to improve it and future programs.

Some of the reasons for its success are the multidisciplinary and collaborative setting, the European Added Value of initiatives and projects and the excellence and impact requirements.

What improvements can take place in the next program period?

As I said, it is a successful program, but it can be enhanced:

  • The first improvement is on PUBLIC RETURN of public investment, especially in areas such as health. We need to safeguard the public interest and an equitable social impact.
  • The second is on GENDER mainstreaming that must be improved. Women are underrepresented in the program so gender must be used as a tie-breaker in the evaluation process.
  • The third measure is on SIMPLIFICATION: the program budget, management, and implementation are spread over 20 different EU bodies what must be simplified.
  • The fourth one is on R&D INVESTMENT FROM MEMBER STATES AND INDUSTRY. They need to invest more in R & D so that the 3% of GDP target is achieved by 2020. The world leaders regarding competitiveness and technological development such as South Korea, Japan, Singapore or the United States are investing around 4% of their GDP.

The cuts to the EU budget have not affected policies such the CAP and cohesion. Do you consider the future of Horizon at stake after 2020?

I hope that the European Commission reach the 120 billion euros budget and that the Council agrees with the figure. That is the clear political message that we have a launch from the European Parliament, and the Pascal Lamy's report goes in the same direction.

In my report, I ask the Commission, on the one hand, to avoid making further cuts to the Horizon 2020 budget (as the one of the EFSI), and on the contrary, to use current resources, meaning, new ones, for the next FP on defense research.

What is the main proposal of reforms on the table at the time being?

My report contains many of them. I would like to highlight the following ones:

  • EXCELLENCE needs to be reinforced as an evaluation criterion and the underrepresented regions, and underrepresented sciences need to be considered. At the same time, a better definition of the IMPACT criterion has been requested.
  • SYNERGIES between H2020 and other funds must be improved, reinforcing the role of the RIS, as well as the revision of the regulation on State Aid.
  • SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES need to be integrated into interdisciplinary projects, providing them with an adequate budget.
  • Regarding OPEN SCIENCE, new models that allow the integration of the scientific community, not only public but also private in research infrastructures, are needed.
  • On JTI: The Commission has been asked to assess the consistency and transparency of JTIs, which currently account for 10% of the H2020 budget, and to evaluate the European added value and the public relevance of all initiatives led by industry.
  • About INDUSTRY, the EP report asks for a greater investment in R & D by industry and increased involvement in Open Access and Open Science. The Commission will determine the degree of participation of big business (loans, subsidies or at cost) depending on the European added value of the project and their driving force for SMEs.
  • A GRANT-BASED FINANCING MODEL is also requested, especially for fundamental research, as there are certain organizations such as Universities that cannot receive loans by Law.

> European Parliament resolution of 13 June 2017 on the assessment of Horizon 2020 implementation in view of its interim evaluation and the Framework Programme 9 proposal