Revisiting the future of European R&I programmes

22 February 2023

After reflecting upon the past Horizon 2020 programme and the first two years of Horizon Europe, Aurora Universities Network comes up with eleven recommendations to improve the current R&I programme and develop the next framework programme FP10.  The recommendations include:

  • A swift association of the UK and Switzerland to Horizon Europe;
  • An improved global approach and more possibilities for international collaboration when dealing with global challenges;
  • Advanced cohesion and integration between EU programmes including Horizon Europe, Erasmus+, EU4Health, LIFE, and Digital Europe;
  • A better embedding of citizen engagement and co-creation (not only in R&I programmes but using the example of missions also in all other EU programmes);
  • More cohesion in innovation grant schemes; and
  • More cohesion between ESIF and HEU by using the ERDF budget for structural national investments in R&I in Widening countries (where needed) and a focus on a limited number of Widening grant schemes in Horizon Europe to improve scientific excellence.

The full eleven recommendations can be found in the position paper (link below). In addition, any European R&I programme needs sufficient funding to accomplish our tasks as universities and the broader R&I sector to contribute to achieving global and European challenges. The current geopolitical situation and the war have led to increased costs of living. To fulfil our role in science and society, we emphasise that a budget of 200 billion euros for FP10 is needed. Furthermore, we agree with the European Parliament that Horizon Europe funding for research should not be funnelled or repurposed to other, or new, priorities than those initially set.

In addition, we argue against grant mechanisms that ask for co-financing or matching from academic or RTO organisations as this needs to be charged to the structural public financing of our organisations (and hence the permanent staff, infrastructures, and education). In principle, public universities do not have large budgetary envelopes that can be spent freely.  In fact, universities are facing budget cuts due to increased prices and/or reduced numbers of students. The risk is that the academic sector will withdraw completely from such grants.

Read our full position paper here.