Closing the east-west research gap in Europe
By Ingemar Pongratz
The European Commission is working on the new Horizon Europe research and innovation programme which will follow after the current Horizon 2020 scheme. The Commission has stated that the main ambition with Horizon Europe is to continuity, but there are still rather big news being discussed, for example with the introduction of the European Innovation Council and new innovation funding schemes.
A new feature that has been proposed by one of the main draftsmen of the Horizon Europe scheme has also received a mixed reception, namely the re requirement that Horizon Europe should actively contribute to reduce the geographical divide between the Less Represented Countries and the old member states.
Recent figures show that the EU member states that joined the European Union after 2004 received considerable less funding compared to the other member states. In fact, the member states that were members of the European Union prior to 2004 attracted close to 20 times more funding compared to the member states that joined the EU after 2004. This is a very problematic figure for the EU and Closing the east-west research gap in Europe will be important in the future scheme.
Thus, it is not very surprising that there are attempts to correct this imbalance. Recently, members of the European Parliament suggested that Horizon Europe should include specific features to reduce the divide between the European regions.
These attempts however, have met considerable opposition from the Academic sector. Recently, 7 leading Universities from Germany, the UK, France and Italy have stated that they oppose that the Horizon Europe should be used to close the scientific gap between the European regions. The Universities argue that research excellence should be the main factor for selection of research projects in the future, and this should include all themes in the Horizon Europe scheme. Instead, they suggest a number of possible models to reduce the scientific divide, including for example increased scientific mobility within Europe.
However, representatives of the European Parliament and from national authorities seem to disagree with the Academic community in this matter. While they agree that the scientific divide can’t be solved by Horizon Europe alone, they argue that Horizon Europe should be part of the solution.
It is clear that both sides of the debate make good arguments and most importantly, provide possible solutions to the problem. It will be interesting to see how the problem is addressed in the future
Ingemar Pongratz established Fenix Scientific AB / Pongratz Consulting. We help organizations to apply for national and European funding. If you wish to discuss our services please contact me either through the Online contact form (opens in a new window) or by email.
Ingemar.Pongratz (a) pongratzconsulting.com