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Horizon 2020: EUA members call for more competitiveness and efficiency

09 December 2016

EUA has released the results of its 2016 member consultation on Horizon 2020. As the European Commission undertakes its mid-term review of the current Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and prepares discussions on its post-2020 successor, EUA invited its members to share their views and experiences with Horizon 2020.

EUA_Graphic_Member ConsultationThe findings represent the voices of more than 150 universities from 28 countries across Europe and contain further reflections from EUA’s ongoing work on the Ninth Framework Programme, the European Innovation Council and the Public Funding Observatory.

European universities are key beneficiaries of the Framework Programme and staunch supporters of Horizon 2020, which is seen as highly successful. Indeed, EU-level funding for research and innovation based on grants and open competitive calls creates unparalleled added value and is paramount to retaining scientific talent and boosting Europe’s global competitiveness. Nevertheless, the EUA member consultation revealed that Horizon 2020 is endangered by critically low success rates due to insufficient funding at the EU and national levels. 

“This translates into higher participation costs, wasted research ideas, and greatly reduces the competitiveness of the European Research Area and the efficiency of public investment,” explains Thomas Estermann, EUA Director of Governance, Funding and Public Policy Development. 

Furthermore, respondents pointed out that despite progress on simplification, Horizon 2020 projects bear significant administrative and financial burdens given accounting and reporting complexities, as well as insufficient coverage of indirect costs. 

“Rigid and costly implementation undermines sustainability and capacity in retaining and attracting scientific talent, which hampers global competitiveness,” explains David Drewry, EUA Vice-President and Chair of the Research Policy Working Group. “Excellent, multidisciplinary, and collaborative university-based research is key to ensure societal progress and well-being in the long-term.” 

“Starting from the key principle of excellent research as main criterion for the selection and support of research projects, we need to find ways to connect more researchers to excellent research projects. Widening the base of excellence within the EU is necessary to participate in the global competition in the long run,” says Jan Mengelers, EUA Research Policy Working Group member. 

The university sector’s views provide the basis for a series of core messages and actions addressing the different issues identified with Horizon 2020. The leading principles include continuing to prioritise excellence as the main selection criteria, emphasising the value of collaborative research; broadening innovation and committing to long-term investments in research; further integrating social sciences and humanities; opening up research agenda setting; widening participation; clarifying the notion of impact and promoting open access to research publications and data.

Regarding funding and modalities, priorities include securing ambitious grant-based funding; enhancing programme efficiency and success rates; developing a strategic approach to efficiency and sustainability of research funding at European, national and institutional levels; improving cost coverage; enabling trust-based simplification and fostering EU funding synergies.

To read the full report, please click here.

In November 2016, EUA also released the findings of its membership consultation on Erasmus+. To see that report, please click here.

European University Association (EUA)

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