News from Brussels: Focus on budget in EU’s research programmes

In 2021, EU is planning to start up two new programmes; Digital Europe Programme and Horizon Europe. The framework has now been finalised, but the decision on the budget is delayed. For Sweden to maintain a high competence level, it is crucial that the process starts soon and that the original figures are adhered to.

For a programme period to begin by year end, the budget usually needs to be set in the spring. But now, the negotiations between the membership states have barely started.

“Best case scenario, we have a solution in place in the summer,” says Charlotte Andersdotter, Head of Teknikföretagens (Association of Swedish Engineering Industries’) and RISE’s joint office in Brussels.

“Given the delay, it is unlikely that Horizon Europe will start already in January next year, but everything is possible in the EU world,” she says, adding: “The big question though is how much the member states are willing to invest.”

For Horizon Europe, the proposed budget by the European Commission is EUR 86,6 billion in 2018 figures. In December 2019, the Finnish Presidency suggested a compromise of EUR 84 billion in 2018 figures, which is a reduction of more than EUR 2 billion.

“To not lose momentum, it is extremely important that Sweden does not retreat from the original numbers in the coming negotiations,” says Charlotte.

The second initiative, Digital Europe Programme, aims to support the digitalisation of companies and organisations. The original proposal was around EUR 9 billion, but in the autumn of 2019, the Finnish Presidency suggested a budget of a worrying EUR 0.

Since the budgets largely determine what will be prioritised in the programmes, they are extremely important.

“They are signals to the outside world how powerful Europe wants to be,” explains Charlotte. “As a parallel process, the Swedish government will put forward a proposal on the national Research and Innovation (R&I) budget, which both parties can leverage from.”

Content an important aspect

The long-term planning of Horizon Europe’s content is in full swing. The Commission has produced a draft Strategic Planning covering the first four years.

“The document has strong emphasis on green and sustainable actions, says Charlotte. “We need to keep an industrial focus, since the industry contributes to many of the solutions that benefit society.”

Most welcome to contact Charlotte Andersdotter if you have any questions or would like to learn more.

Charlotte Andersdotter
Teknikföretagen and RISE Brussels office
charlotte.andersdotter@teknikforetagen.se