Blog: FP9 priorities

26 May 2017

Russell Group head of policy Jessica Cole blogs on priorities for the next EU framework programme:

A delegation of Russell Group Vice-Chancellors and other senior staff are heading to Brussels next Tuesday. As well as conveying a clear message that we want to see a positive outcome for universities from the upcoming Brexit negotiations, we will also be discussing the shape and direction of the EU’s next research and innovation programme.

The new programme is due to start in 2021 and the European Commission is already beginning to think about what the programme might look like, so now is the time to influence. Especially for the UK, whilst we are still members of the EU, British stakeholders, MEPs and the Government can use both formal and informal channels to shape how EU research funding will be allocated in future.

This will be a particular focus of a roundtable we are convening in Brussels with a group of MEPs from different countries and political backgrounds. We will be listening to what their key issues, concerns and aspirations are for future EU research and innovation and highlighting our top five priorities for the next programme:

  1.        Excellence: we want to ensure funding is allocated on the basis of excellence to drive up the quality of the science base across the EU and to ensure the best return for public investment, particularly through the European Research Council

  2.        Support for the entire research and innovation ecosystem: there needs to be a sustainable balance of funding between fundamental, curiosity-driven research and closer-to-market activities, with appropriate support across all discipline areas, including social sciences, arts and humanities

  3.        Budget: increasing the budget for cutting-edge research and innovation will support growth and jobs across Europe. Focusing on grant funding for university research rather than loans will support vital fundamental research which is needed to deliver the innovations of the future

  4.        Simplification: we urge the European Commission to continue to make efforts to reduce bureaucracy, streamline funding instruments where possible and to introduce a more risk-based, lighter-touch audit system

  5.        Global reach: ensuring the next programme is truly open to the world with more flexibility to work with excellent research partners across the globe will maximise the impact of research funding by facilitating collaboration with a wider pool of top international researchers and expertise.

Although the UK’s participation in future EU programmes will be a matter for negotiation, we hope an agreement can be reached which will allow UK universities to continue to engage constructively with future EU research projects and programmes. Above all, we want to ensure the good relationship between the UK and the EU on science can be maintained – both UK and EU science will be stronger if we continue to work together. 

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