Large degree of consensus among Research Ministers gives a boost to Horizon Europe negotiations
On 29 September 2018, the Research Ministers of the 28 Member States met in Brussels at the first formal Meeting of the Council Competitiveness under the Austrian Council Presidency. The meeting was focussed exclusively on the negotiations on Horizon Europe. The main outcome of the meeting can be summarised as follows:
There was very clear support from Ministers for changing the legal bases of the Specific Programme of Horizon Europe as recommended by the Legal Service of the Council. The President concluded that this clear message will be respected in the next steps of the negotiations.
The discussion on content focussed on two main issues: Widening participation, and the structure of pillar 2 of Horizon Europe. With regard to widening participation, the clear consensus among Ministers was that excellence shall remain the main principle of the Framework Programme. However, many Member States asked for more effort to increase the low participation rate of some Member States and to reduce the severe brain drain from some regions of Europe.
With regard to pillar two, there was significant support for separating social sciences and humanities on the one hand and security research on the other into two separate clusters, in order to create an appropriate place for both areas in the programme. Several Ministers asked for particular support for Key Enabling Technologies within Cluster two and support throughout all TRL Levels. The Presidency will take these messages on board for the oncoming Presidency Paper on the Horizon Europe Regulation.
Finally an agreement was reached on the issue of how strategic planning in Horizon Europe should be organised. Ministers unanimously agreed to the option of putting the most important issues, namely the areas for missions and partnerships, in an annex of the Specific Programme, and to decide on the other issues in the course of an Implementing Act with comitology. The two rapporteurs of the European Parliament for Horizon Europe, Dan Nica MEP and Christian Ehler MEP, were invited to an informal lunch debate, to present the initial views of the EP on Horizon Europe and to have a first informal exchange of views with Research Ministers.
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