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  • Horizon Europe research programme budget increased to €120 billion
  • Increase SMEs’ support through grants for incremental innovation
  • Priority to programmes that include women, SMEs or participants from lower-performing EU countries when deciding on two equally strong applications

The Parliament voted to increase Horizon Europe research programme budget for 2021-27, with a focus on SMEs, women and lower-performing EU countries.

The resolution asks an increase of the programme budget of €36.5 billion to €120 billion in 2018 prices (€135.25 billion in current prices) compared to the European Commission’s proposal.

Eligible countries

In addition to EU countries, the Programme is open to European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members, acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates as well as countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Other third countries that have a good capacity in science, technology and innovation and are committed to human rights are also eligible. Full or partial association to the Programme shall be based on an assessment of benefits for the EU.

Priority to women, SMEs and lower-performing EU countries

MEPs wants to increase support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by reintroducing the possibility of grants for incremental innovation, with a ring-fenced budget of €2.5 billion.

The resolution introduces innovative measures, such as widening fellowships to strengthen European Research Areas, and reduce the scientific and technological divide.

MEPs underlined the necessity to give priority to programmes that include women, SMEs or participants from lower-performing EU countries when deciding on two equally strong applications.

Quotes

The rapporteur for the Horizon Europe - Framework Programme proposal Dan Nica (S&D, RO) said: “We addressed the scientific and technological divide while maintaining excellence as a core principle of the programme. We made sure that at least 35% of the total budget under this programme would be allocated to support EU’s climate objectives. Horizon Europe needs not only to be more ambitious but also simpler, clearer and more accessible to reduce administrative burden and promote fair and objective participation of all research and innovation teams across the EU.”

The rapporteur for the Implementing Horizon Europe proposal Christian Ehler (EPP, DE) said: “This is a historic vote for Europe: all political groups together calling for a more ambitious research and innovation programme. A budget increase to €120bn is the minimum for Horizon Europe to assure that European industry remains competitive compared to the United States and China. Parliament reached an agreement in less than 3 months of negotiations. We hope that the Council will be as united and ambitious as us and that we can enter into interinstitutional negotiations and have a deal before the EU elections”.

Next steps

The proposal for the 2021-2027 Horizon Europe rules for participation and desemination was approved by 548 votes to 70 against, and 49 abstentions.

The proposal for the specific programme implementing Horizon Europe was approved by 569 votes to 74 against, and 20 abstentions

The European Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with EU member states. MEPs want a swift agreement on MFF-related files, in order to avoid the serious setbacks for the launch of the new programmes due to the late adoption, as experienced in the past.