Academia in uproar over ‘planned €12bn cut’ to EU R&D

The title of an article published in Research Professional, Friday, pretty much sums it up. It is deeply disturbing and worrying that considerable budget cuts in Horizon Europe are now being discussed. The initial allocation of 120B EUR to Horizon Europe proposed by the Parliament has been revised to 94B EUR by the Commission, and the budget compromise decided by the European Council could lead to further cuts, according to the article in Research Professional with “at least 12B EUR”.

Research is key

Excellent fundamental research is key to future technological developments. It is key to tackling societal challenges, and it is key to securing the cohesion and overall attractiveness of Europe. The future of Europe hinges on its investment in research. Nothing less.

Recently French president Emanuel Macron warned that European leaders need to “wake up” and act amid a significant risk that Europe will no longer be in control of its own destiny. “Europe is on the edge of a precipice” he says in an article in the Economist. This is a very gloomy picture of Europe´s future. But why increase the likelihood of proving Macron right? This is exactly what we do by cutting EU´s research budget.

Strongest research community

The budget discussion on the next 7-year framework program Horizon Europe has to be seen in this context. Europe is host to the strongest research community in the world, not least thanks to EU´s support of frontier research. As a panel chair in the European Research Council since its inception more than ten years ago I have witnessed at close range the societal impact of groundbreaking research.

This is why the recent signals of budget cuts in the planned Horizon Europe program is so deeply worrying. It is worrying, not just because universities and individual researchers need funding for relevant and high quality research. It is worrying, because the future of Europe depends on it.

Fundamental research is what has brought us to where we are today. Fundamental research is what will take us to where we want to be tomorrow. It is time to reconsider.

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