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Horizon Europe, the next EU research framework programme worth about EUR 94 billion and spanning the years from 2021 to 2027, is to expand the international reach of EU research. Apart from 16 neighbouring countries, the European Commission is also talking to about Horizon Europe membership with Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. The EU Commission could also imagine the US as a member.
Such hopes got a blow at a SCIENCE BUSINESS conference in Brussels earlier this month. In a prepared statement which she read out, Conny C. Arvis, Director for Science and Technology Cooperation at the State Department, expressed the Trump Administration’s displeasure with the terms the EU Commission offered the US for participating in Horizon Europe.
To be honest, the problem existed already in the days of the Obama Administration. It had argued vis-à-vis Brussels that the EU’s contractual conditions and terms under Horizon 2020 negatively impacted on the IPRs of US researchers. In an attempt to solve this problem, the EU Commission and the Department of State entered into an “implementation agreement”, which allowed US researcher participating in Horizon 2020 without receiving EU funds not to have to sign the standard EU contracts. But the US is still not happy. According to Arvis, the EU never implemented the “implementation agreement”, which therefore lives its life largely on paper.
The situation is likely to get worse under Horizon Europe. While in the past, it was in principle possible for an international associate like the US to get more money out of the programme than it paid in (but, obviously, also less), Horizon Europe is to limit funding from the programme to the amount provided by the US (and other industrialised countries outside the EU). The best the US could get out of joining Horizon Europe is a zero-sum game. But there is the danger of a loss. Arvis finds this inacceptable. Under this deal, the US can pay in, but it has no say over the rules on how the funds are used, Avis complained.
US-EU negotiations are still ongoing, but the hopes that the US will join Horizon Europe now look smaller.