The budget of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and the European Research Council could be reduced by millions, according to the European Commission’s proposals for the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
Publishing the legislative proposal for the EFSI, the figures from the Commission uncover the multimillion euro cuts to all three pillars of Horizon 2020. Under the plans, the Societal Challenges pillar will see the largest cut over the next five years, equating to €1.1bn, or 3.8% of the total budget; the Industrial Leadership pillar will be reduced by €586m, or 3.4% of current allocated funding; and the Excellent Science pillar will be reduced by around €544m, or 2.2% in current funding levels. The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced in November the proposal to draw €2.7bn from Horizon 2020 and redistribute the money to fund new innovation projects under the EFSI.
Under the plans, the EIT budget will see the greatest reduction, with €350m taken from the Institute’s funding package between 2015 and 2020. The largest annual reductions occur in 2016 and 2017 and the Commission’s plan represent a 13% overall fall. The ERC budget will also be reduced by €221.2m as part of the plans, again with the greatest annual decreases occurring in 2016 and 2017.
Responding to the plan to cut the Horizon 2020 budget, the European Commission said that funding for Horizon 2020 would still be “49% higher than the one of the Seventh Framework Programme” and reiterated that “excellence in research and the ERC is a top priority for the Union”.
The Commission added that due to the complexities of the EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF), a transfer of funds between different MFF headings would “require a change to the MFF that can only be decided by unanimity among EU member states”. The EU institution said that “such a change would necessitate a complex and time-consuming negotiation, the outcome of which would be uncertain”. Consequently the funding for the EFSI is drawn from Horizon 2020, in addition to the Connecting Europe Facility, rather than other policy areas. The money will be directed in particular to the EU Guarantee Fund, as part of the EFSI.
You can read the full legislative proposal for the EFSI here.