Council and European Parliament agree in record time on Europe’s flagship Horizon Europe programme, signalling critical nature of EU research and innovation (R&I) programme. Horizon Europe provides good ammunition to boost EU competitiveness, promoting climate and energy R&I but will need more to win clean technology battle, delivering Europe’s timely decarbonisation.
Today’s agreement on Horizon Europe secured important climate measures but failed to appropriately scale them up to achieve decarbonisation of the European economy. As originally proposed by the Commission, Parliament and Council confirmed at least 35% of the fund will be dedicated to climate-related projects as well as take a more a mission-based approach to research. The agreement failed to formally exclude fossil fuels from receiving funding.
Still at play is the substantial increase to €100 billion of the Horizon Europe budget envelope, compared to €80bn for the 2014-2020 funding period and the share of the Programme going to the climate, energy and mobility cluster. The budget envelope will be decided along with other related issues by European ministers under the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF). These negotiations are solely in member states’ hands, and the Parliament only has a consent role. Member states can still use MFF talks to raise ambition in EU funds, including Horizon. They can climate-proof the budget – i.e. ensure that each euro allocated and spent will not undermine efforts to curb climate change – excluding fossil fuels from receiving EU funds as well as secure the share of funds going to climate throughout the EU budget.
Horizon Europe – following on from Horizon 2020 – is the EU’s flagship funding programme for research and innovation in Europe. The programme has a proposed budget of €100 billion by the Commission.
Thanks to the 35% share of funds going to climate-related projects, Horizon Europe will make a good contribution to climate and energy. The possibility of having a mission on carbon neutral cities shows a new and promising approach to EU R&I. To become a real game changer however, further ambition is needed.