Position of the Czech Academy of Sciences on the support of frontier research in Horizon Europe

17. 12. 2020

The Czech Academy of Sciences, the largest research performing organization in the Czech Republic’s research, development and innovation system, welcomes that the political agreement on the EU 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework has been reached, making it possible to commence the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon Europe from January 2021 as planned.

In spite of this success, it is necessary to note, however, that the agreed budget lags far behind the optimal amount needed to support true scientific progress and guarantee Europe a leadership position in the world knowledge competition.

Particularly, the frontier research pillar faces serious underinvestment. The 1.1 billion EUR added to the European Research Council budget is certainly appreciated. This will, however, merely curb stagnation, but it will not be sufficient to reverse the current trend of placing excellent project proposals on the reserve list due to lack of funds available.

We have also previously raised our concerns that we consider future support to Research Infrastructures (hereinafter “RIs”), as laid out in the documents available to us, insufficient. This is of particular importance as it is challenging to fund access for users from other countries from a national budget for RIs. Similarly, activities that were funded through previous Horizon 2020 Framework Programme and addressed consolidation of the membership base, the expansion of scientific services, support to the outreach, internationalization and global visibility or the support to governance are not included this time and it will be very difficult to cover these expenses by Member States.

We appreciate support provided to new RIs in Preparatory Phase (and to ESFRI entries from the 2016 roadmap). Many implemented RIs that are already delivering services to European science, however, also require funding to support their further development. But Member States funding will not increase at the rate needed to fund these. Therefore, we strongly recommend to deliberately focus towards maximizing the impact on the existing RIs from 2023 onwards (when subsequent work programmes come into force), capitalizing on the excellent work already being carried out by those RIs.

Text: Lyudmyla Tysyachna, Head Office of the Czech Academy of Sciences
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