Industry Committee MEPs call for budgetary means to match ambitions on research, defence, space and digital Europe

Following Parliament’s adoption of its position on the EU’s long-term budget (multiannual financial framework – MFF 2021-2027) last week, the Industry, Research and Energy committee on Wednesday set out their scope and priorities for funding important areas that will stimulate future growth such as research, defence, space and digital Europe.

MEPs underlined that they are ready to start negotiations with EU ministers at any time to reach an agreement before the European elections.

Horizon Europe – research

Complementing the plenary’s decision to better fund Europe’s future budget, the Industry Committee MEPs voted to:

  • Increase the Horizon Europe research programme budget for 2021-2027 to €120 billion in 2018 prices (instead of €83.5 billion, as proposed by Commission).
  • Increase support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by reintroducing the possibility of grants for incremental innovation, with a ring-fenced budget of €2.5 billion.
  • Introduce innovative measures, such as widening fellowships to strengthen European Research Areas, and reduce the scientific and technological divide.
  • Give priority to programmes that include women, SMEs or participants from lower-performing EU countries when deciding on two equally strong applications.

The European Defence Fund (EDF)

By supporting the Commission’s proposal to allocate €11.5 billion in 2018 prices to the European Defence Fund for 2021-2027, the committee stresses there is a need for a more ‘European’ approach, to defence. The EDF will finance cross-border collaboration in defence research and development projects, for interoperable technology and equipment in areas such as encrypted software and drone technology.

The EU Space Programme

In order to help maintain, and further enhance, the EU’s leadership in the field, Parliament wants to raise the Commission’s proposed budget to the EU Space Programme, with €621 million to €14.82 billion in 2018 prices during 2021-2027. This will also give an important boost to EU industry in the field of space.

MEPs also voted to include tackling cyber threats and supporting space diplomacy to the scope.

The Digital Europe programme

The European Parliament has welcomed the Commission’s proposal to create the first ever Digital Europe programme, and will invest €8.2 billion under the EU budget 2021-2027, to address increasing digital challenges. The funding is crucial to achieve the Digital Single Market strategy and to increase the EU’s international competitiveness. In addition to reinforcing Europe’s strategic digital capacities, it is also vital to support high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced digital skills.

The following reports on MFF related files were adopted today

  • Horizon Europe (Research and Innovation),

adopted with 60 votes to 1 and 3 abstentions.

  • Specific programmes implementing Horizon Europe,

adopted with 61 votes to 1 and 1 abstentions.

  • Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (2021-2025), adopted with 43 votes to 12 and 7 abstentions.
  • European Defence Fund, adopted with 35 votes to 11 and 14 abstentions.
  • Digital Europe programme for 2021-2027, adopted with 57 votes to 2 and 3 abstentions.
  • Space programme the EU Agency for the Space Programme,

adopted with 54 votes to 7 and 0 abstentions.

  • European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy,

adopted with 49 votes to 11 and 3 abstentions.

  • Nuclear decommissioning assistance programme of the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania, adopted with 61 votes to 2 and 0 abstentions.

Next steps

The Plenary will now vote on the decision to start talks with EU ministers, which can begin, once a common position is agreed. MEPs want to make as much progress as possible before the end of this legislative term.

EPP: Europe needs a substantial increase in the next research and innovation budget

”Only a substantial increase in the EU budget for research and innovation will assure that Europe remains competitive compared to the United States and China. Unfortunately there is still a huge mismatch between the actual money we spend on research and our ambition to invest 3 per cent of GDP into research and innovation. So far, we have shamelessly failed to reach the most important Europe 2020 goal”, said Christian Ehler MEP, EPP Group Spokesman, after the vote in the European Parliament’s Industry Committee on the Horizon Europe Programme.

“We reached a position in Parliament in 3 months, much faster than Horizon 2020. We hope that the Council will be as united as the European Parliament and that we can enter into negotiations and have a deal before the European elections. It will send a positive signal to citizens, researchers and to our global competitors that we are sticking to our ambitions and that we are in the race to become the most excellent and innovative place in the world. Europe is at an historic crossroads. The time is now to decide whether we will become a leader or fall behind our global competitors,” added Christian Ehler.

S&Ds called for an ambitious budget

The S&Ds called for an ambitious EU budget, of at least €120 billion in 2018 prices, to finance research and innovation and address the challenges European societies and economies are facing.

“Having an ambitious and properly funded framework programme means investing in the future of Europe. We are convinced that through science and innovation, Europe can become more competitive and stay at the forefront of global research and innovation. An ambitious budget is also crucial for funding ground-breaking research and innovation projects and for creating quality jobs,” said S&D MEP Dan Nica, Parliament’s negotiator for Horizon Europe and S&D spokesperson on industry, research and energy.

“Enhanced research and innovation are also vital to ensuring a smooth transition to a sustainable social and economic model, in line with the SGDs and the Paris Agreement. To this end, we made sure that at least 35% of the total budget would be allocated to support EU’s climate objectives. Horizon Europe needs to be not only ambitious but also simpler, clearer and more accessible to reduce administrative burden and promote fair and objective participation of all research and innovation teams across the EU,” said MEP Nica.

“About two thirds of Europe’s growth has been driven by research and innovation. To continue to drive sustainable growth, social impact and benefit societies, we need to adequately fund research and innovation programmes in the EU. Public funding and public return on public investment are crucial and need to be combined with private funds from industry,” added Soledad Cabezón MEP, S&D spokesperson for the Horizon Europe Specific Programme.

ECR: MEPs vote through plans for EU’s next research and innovation programme

Maintaining the principle of excellence while doing more to boost participation from central and eastern European countries will be key to the success of the EU’s next seven year research programme, said ECR Czech MEP Evžen Tošenovský, after Parliament’s Research Committee adopted their position on the proposals today.

“Horizon Europe should follow the same path of the EU’s earlier research and innovation programmes which have been one of the few widely recognised successes of European funding. Maintaining the principle of excellence, meaning that the best project is granted funding, has been key to its success and it was crucial to maintain this under the new Horizon Programme. However, looking at participation rates across Member States, it is clear that we need to continue to put more resources towards helping increase participation from organisations in central and eastern European countries,” said Tošenovský.

“The competitiveness of the EU’s research programmes has made them very attractive to international partners. It is key that we maintain the programme’s outward looking approach and allow participation from outside the EU. The UK has been a key player in EU research programmes and we need to ensure collaboration in future between both sides in order for them to continue their often ground-breaking joint research,” he added.