The EU Health Coalition calls for a Horizon Europe budget reflective of Europe’s ambition for an innovative and competitive research landscape, warning a budget cut would jeopardise EU health research
There is a long track record of EU health research initiatives that can improve Europe’s ability to face emergencies and enable Member States to respond to health challenges. Health research has led to the development of cures and vaccines for many deadly diseases, Ebola being one of the most recent examples. We can do the same for COVID-19 and other health challenges, but only if we invest in health research. Research is a direct way to recovery, health and well-being and this should be reflected in the revised MFF.
The draft European Council conclusions (‘negotiating box’) proposes to allocate €89.4 billion to the overall budget for the 2021-2027 research programme, a fall from the €94.4 billion (in 2018 prices) presented earlier this year. The new proposal outlines that Horizon Europe will suffer a cut of €5B, which is in contrast with the European Commission’s proposal and with the European Parliament’s call for an increased funding under Horizon Europe.
Ahead of the European Council Summit (17-18 July), the EU Health Coalition urges Member States to negotiate and adopt a Multiannual Financial Framework as well as a Horizon Europe budget which echo Europe’s ambition for innovation in research. We recognise the urgent need for a political agreement in order to overcome the COVID-19 economic and societal consequences, the suspension of current EU programmes and delays in new ones. However, we are deeply concerned that a budget cut of Horizon Europe would put the EU’s strategic plans on hold. Also, we fear that this would undermine the fragile equilibrium between priorities and global challenges under Horizon Europe, and that the EU budget for health research would be jeopardised.
The European Union’s long-term objectives should not be sacrificed for the sake of short-term recovery. The COVID-19 outbreak has emphasised the need to transform Europe into a true research and innovation hub and to foster accessible and affordable innovation to tackle health issues. In order to address the ongoing pandemic and future health challenges, Europe needs a long-term research ecosystem to sustain interdisciplinary networks, cross-border initiatives, health data infrastructures, robust collaboration, the vital role of innovative Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Europe, medical education and regulatory flexibility. In addition, the EU manages one-tenth of the public research investment. It is the major funder of impactful, collaborative and transnational research. Therefore, the EU Health Coalition calls upon the EU Institutions to secure a strong support for biomedical and health related research. Sound measures accompanied by a ring-fenced EU budget dedicated to health research are a must in order to ensure that outstanding basic research leads to the necessary impact in the real-world setting and improves patients’ lives.