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Apr 6, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

With Framework Programme 9 set to commence in 2021, universities have come together in urging the EU government to double its investment in research funding to €160 billion. Here’s a closer look at the initiative, as recently reported by Science Business.

Toward Global Leadership

Citing Horizon 2020’s  €77 billion budget as inadequate in the face of growing needs, organizations including the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the European University Association (EUA), contended in an open letter that doubling the budget would help the EU assert its global leadership in key areas, including autonomous vehicles, future energy technologies, smart buildings, batteries, the circular economy, and infectious diseases.  The group also says the move would lead to the creation of roughly 650,000 jobs by 2040 while adding just under .50 percent to the GDP.

This echoes an earlier call by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said  €160 billion budget would spur the EU to become “one of the world’s leading players in research and innovation.”

Finding the Money

The hitch? With Brexit looming in the future and negotiations still underway, it’s not yet clear whether the European Commission will have the money it needs to double the budget. Still, they’re optimistic that it’s possible, if new sources of income are developed.

Said LERU’s Kurt Deketelaere, “I would say that there are a number of good signals which make us believe that it is perhaps achievable.”

Stakeholders were also careful to note that an increase to the EU budget should not supersede research investments by member states. “We also urge the European institutions to encourage member states more forcefully to meet their commitments," continues the open letter.   

And while some members states have already shown themselves willing to contribute more, others aren’t yet on board. Said Thomas Estermann, EUA director for governance, funding and public policy, “We are very much aware of the challenges of moving money from other areas.”



Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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