The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has, through its rapporteur Christophe Clergeau, welcomed the compromise reached between the European Parliament and the European Council on Horizon Europe, EU's research programme for the next budget period (2021-27).
The partial agreement reached last week confirms much of the programme but leaves open its final budget, which will be agreed in the negotiations on the EU's next Multiannual Financial Framework. The CoR and the EP are asking the total budget to be raised to €120 billion, from the €94.6 billion proposed by the European Commission.
Closing the research and innovation gap between Member States and between regions is a key demand of the CoR opinion adopted in October 2018. In this regard, the two co-legislators agreed that 3.3 per cent of Horizon Europe's budget should support efforts to widen participation in 15 Southern and Central/East European Member States that are lagging behind in the field of R&I. The CoR also values positively the establishment of a mission on 'Smart and Carbon Neutral Cities' and a R&I partnership on 'Sustainable bio-based solutions'.
While all the details of the agreement are not yet known, CoR rapporteur Christophe Clergeau (FR/PES), Member of the Pays-de-la-Loire Regional Council, stressed that the programme must provide local and regional authorities with direct access to dedicated Horizon Europe funding for connecting territories and building regional R&I ecosystems with European regions and cities. Particular attention should be paid to the problem of 'brain-drain' and renewing of research and scientific potential locally.
"We urge for the full recognition of regional innovation ecosystems and their capacity to meet the objectives of Horizon Europe and to fulfil its missions", pointed out the CoR rapporteur, who insisted on the need for full acknowledgement of the potential of such ecosystems to propose new types of co-financed European partnerships. "The CoR also wishes to contribute through its members and experts to the work of the newly-created European Innovation Council (EIC), which principally aims at supporting local companies and start-ups to scale up innovation", Mr Clergeau said.
The European Parliament will vote on the agreement in April at its final plenary before the European elections.