Policy decoded: Horizon Europe

13 December 2019

In our ‘Policy Decoded’ series, we break down a policy issue currently in the spotlight. We explain why it matters for the technology industries Orgalim represents. And we look at how we are working with our members across Europe and with EU policymakers to shape an enabling framework for the future.

In focus this time: Horizon Europe, the next EU Framework Programme for research, development and innovation (R&D&I). With negotiations well underway on both the budget and the programme details, we look at how an ambitious Horizon Europe focused on industrial collaborative research can boost competitiveness and support innovation to address the big challenges Europe faces. 

Scroll down to find out why the issue is in the spotlight, why it matters for the technology industries, what Orgalim is doing and how you can find more information on the topic.


What’s the issue?

EU funding for research, development and innovation (R&D&I) is one of the great success stories of European collaboration. Seven-year ‘Framework Programmes’ allocate a portion of the overall EU budget for R&D&I projects across strategic areas ranging from industrial leadership to societal challenges and future and emerging technologies. The current Horizon 2020 programme was the most ambitious to date, making available over €80 billion in funding. 

Participation in EU R&D&I programmes is open to universities, research organisations and private enterprises. Many technology companies represented by Orgalim are active in Horizon 2020 projects. In particular, they value the opportunity to participate in collaborative industrial research: projects where industry and academia work together across borders, often with the aim of bridging the gap between fundamental research and market-ready innovation. By bringing together partners with different backgrounds and nationalities, this kind of applied research can generate fresh perspectives – helping sharpen EU industry’s competitive edge globally while fostering innovation to address challenges in areas like climate or digital transformation.


Why is it in the spotlight?

Negotiations are currently underway among the EU institutions on the next Framework Programme ‘Horizon Europe’, which would span the period 2021-2027. Following the Commission’s presentation of its initial proposal in June 2018, the European Parliament and Council adopted a partial agreement in the spring of 2019. However the budget details remain to be decided, forming as they do part of the ongoing negotiations on the overall EU budget or Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). 

With the new Commission now in office, a fresh push is expected on the budget and Horizon Europe files. Worryingly, however, the most recent MFF discussions indicate that Member States are considering reducing budget funds – at a time when investing in innovation is more important than ever to the EU’s future.


Why does it matter?

The future of Horizon Europe matters for a number of reasons. On the most fundamental level, innovation is and will remain central to Europe’s competitiveness and to our ability to address the major societal challenges we face. At a time when industrial strategy is back on the political agenda, policymakers must recognise the pivotal role played by R&D&I in determining global leadership. Other world regions are moving fast and Europe cannot afford to fall behind.

This means the numbers matter, too. The EU is rightly striving for pole position in the global innovation race – but it needs an R&D&I budget with funds to match that ambition. As it currently stands, Horizon Europe would account for a relatively small part of the total EU budget, despite its disproportionate importance for the future of Europe. To walk the talk on innovation leadership, Member States should be pushing to increase R&D&I funding, not cut it.

More specifically, it matters how funding will be allocated within the final Framework Programme. Orgalim is convinced that a strong focus on industrial collaborative research will be vital to bring the benefits of cutting-edge innovation to the broader economy and society. Drilling down, the details of the final Horizon Europe programme will also be key to unlocking the full potential of industry participation in EU R&D&I projects. This includes striking the right balance on questions such as evaluation criteria for selecting projects, the need to safeguard data confidentiality, or how public-private partnerships and missions are implemented in practice.


What is Orgalim doing?

This is why Orgalim is active in advocating for a final Horizon Europe programme that addresses all of these key points. Representing as we do European technology companies that are innovation leaders in their fields, we are a strong supporter of EU R&D&I policy. We firmly believe that by focusing on funding for applied industrial research, these programmes can make a long-term investment in the future of Europe that will underpin broader goals of growing employment and economic prosperity. We promote policies to increase public-private R&D&I cooperation and research commercialisation, as we are convinced that these hold the key to boosting innovation and competitiveness overall.

To this end, Orgalim’s R&D&I Working Group brings together experts from our member associations across Europe to exchange insights and views on the future direction of the EU Framework Programmes. They have been monitoring in close detail the latest developments on Horizon Europe as negotiations progress. In August 2018 we presented our key messages in a position paper ‘Orgalim’s 16 recommendations to EU policymakers on Horizon Europe’. While certain details may have evolved in the meantime, the essential points remain the same – with focus areas ranging from the overarching issue of budget allocation to details on programme structure and questions like evaluation criteria or data confidentiality.

Since the publication of this paper, we have been actively engaging with EU policymakers to promote these key messages, coordinating efforts with our member associations working at the national level. We have held a number of events to provide a platform for discussion, including a European Parliament roundtable with key MEPs and (then) Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger in September 2018. Working closely with our members, we contributed in September and October 2019 to stakeholder consultations throughout 2019 on the ‘co-design’ process used by the Commission to gather input on the details of Horizon Europe. And we have also joined forces with 93 partners from across sectors to issue a joint statement in September 2019 calling on the EU institutions to make R&D&I a priority within the next MFF.


How can I find out more?

The Orgalim position paper presents our 16 key recommendations for the future of Horizon Europe - here are the headlines:

- Budget - Industrial collaborative research - The excellence principle - Civil research - Data confidentiality / open access - Support all types of innovation - Treat companies of all sizes in the same way - Pillar structure - Cluster ‘Digital and Industry’ - Partnerships - Missions - Ecosystems - Possibility of a budget deviation of 10% - Reciprocity - Refine call procedure - Evaluators

Click download below to read our views in full - and for further information, please contact Christoph Luykx, Director of Innovation and Digital Transformation, at christoph.luykx@orgalim.eu