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Stakeholders take position on what future-Horizon2020 hinges on

Following the launch of
public consultations  at the end of last year, the  mid-term review of Horizon 2020 is catching speed with the beginning of 2017,  and various stakeholder groups have released their responses  in order  to ‘have their say’ in the design of the next Framework Programme (FP).

Representing the voices of over 150 universities in 28 countries, the European University Association (EUA) has an important stake in discussions on Europe’s next research and innovation programme post 2020. Results of EUA’s 2016 Member consultation on Horizon 2020 reveal the programme to successfully foster retention of scientific talent and boost capacities on the global stage of competition. The precariousness of the programme is found in low application success rates, paired with a rise in the number of applications – 75% of rejected proposals being of high quality. The recently released Horizon 2020 Monitoring Report confirmed a dramatic rise of applications, of almost 24% in the period of one year (2014-2015).  Part of this development is driven by deteriorating funding for research at national level that amplify the attractiveness of European- level funding opportunities – potential beneficiaries yet in turn are increasingly left unsuccessful in their bids. Although efforts for simplification are praised, Horizon 2020 projects continue to produce too high administration, financial burdens and reporting complexities that undermine retention of scientific talent and advancements on multidisciplinary approaches. Key priorities and actions universities called for include establishing excellence as the main selection criteria, collaborative research, commitment to long term investments, enhancing the role of social sciences and humanities, clearly setting the concept of impact, as well as promoting open access.

The Coimbra Group, representing European universities of high-level multidisciplinary focus and international standard, in their response echo the above benefits and challenges of Horizon 2020. Special attention is exclaimed for the representation of all disciplines in Horizon 2020 projects, building on the success of the European Research Council (ERC) and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) for enhancing EU presence in research. The need to keep an eye on an emerging gap on research funded by these programmes is emphasised, relating to support for innovation in societal challenges and collaborative approaches. Geographically spreading capacities and widening participation was highlighted to close a potential divide between universities of more and lesser economically strong origins and assist the development of excellence in all member states.

LERU (League of European Universities) calls for policy makers to build a next generation programme that reflects the value of universities for European competiveness in its funding levels and reverses preceding cuts. Tools to locally -build up excellence are needed, a positive example of this being the ERC’s launch of the national fellowships programme. ‘Follow-up funding’ to boost a project’s impact, and the introduction of ‘standing panels’ of experts with representation of more referees with diverse backgrounds are proposed.

Science Europe’s response reaffirms key priorities of designing a programme focused on excellence, which supports innovative and societally relevant research, with an approach of international co-operation, and a movement to opening up science. To realise these ambitions an appropriate budget is indispensable, paired with clear, simple and transparent implementation. 

EUA Member Consultation a Contribution to the Horizon 2020 Mid-Term Review
Coimbra Group contribution on the mid-term review of Horizon 2020
LERU’s Interim Evaluation of Horizon 2020
Science Europe Position Statement -The Framework Programme that Europe Needs