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Important steps towards the adoption of Horizon 2020

At the end of May, an agreement has been reached in the Council of Ministers of the European Union, which allows the Council to move towards starting formal negotiations with the European Parliament over the final text (a regulation) for Horizon 2020 — EU’s future programme in the area of research and innovation. At its meeting of 31 May, the Competitiveness Council agreed, after intense discussions, on a partial general approach for Horizon 2020. This means that the ministers have come to an agreement on the overall structure of and activities under the new programme, pending the opinion of the European Parliament and the related discussions under EU’s multiannual budget negotiations. This compromise solution was drafted by the Danish Presidency, who had also prepared a progress report on the state of negotiations of the three other parts of the research package: the specific programme implementing Horizon 2020, the rules of participation, and the EURATOM programme. The ball is now in Parliament’s court, which is expected to have put forward its “opinion” by October. This will be followed by negotiations between the two institutions for a joint position.

Horizon 2020 is to combine the current Framework Programme for research with the innovation support measures previously funded by the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP), and to additionally include the funding of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The ministers generally welcomed this approach as well as the proposed structure of the programme, which reflects three main priority areas: excellence science, industrial leadership, and societal challenges. However, a number of concerns (“outstanding issues”) were expressed related to the provisions on stem cells and ethical principles, small and medium-sized projects, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Almost in parallel, the European Parliament issued a draft report on the Rules for participation in Horizon 2020. One of its most noteworthy proposals is to decrease the reimbursement rate to 70% of the total project budget, from 75% which is the current threshold under FP7.

Council of the European Union  (partial general approach) European Parliament (report)