EU Parliament approves €160bn for science and tech programmes

But its less than initially expected

In their last meeting before the May 23-26 elections, EU Parliament lawmakers have taken a series of decisions on the bloc’s signature research programmes and gave the green light to Horizon Europe – research funding platform that includes space and digital programmes. The fund that was approved, however, are nearly €26bn less than what the European Parliament had said would be needed for the Horizon programme, which they priced at €120bn.

The approval came after the European Commission had proposed a total budget of €161.6bn for four programmes – €94.1bn for Research and Development in Horizon Europe; €16bn for space; €9.2bn to boost Europe’s digital capabilities in the Digital Europe programme; and €42.3bn for the Connecting Europe infrastructure programme, of which €3bn would be spent on digital infrastructure.

EU Parliament’s last votes allow the EU executive to start preparations for these programmes to begin by January 2021. The Parliamentm in particular wants to see immediate investments into the programme as Horizon Europe will boost R&D in areas including climate research, security, healthcare, and other sectors.

New types of financial support, such as equity investments for tech start-ups are to be put in place after the EU agrees on the overall funding.

Part of the package includes a piece of legislation that aims to boost Europe’s capabilities in supercomputing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, digital skills, and digital transformation. The plan would also see an infrastructure programme implemented that would focus largely on transport, energy and digital. The package includes ambitious plans for the EU’s space programme, which would see a new agency established in Prague to coordinate the EU’s contribution to projects jointly run with the European Space Agency.

As for Brexit, No details were disclosed about the effect Brexit will have on the agreements or what will be the status of non-EU countries, as all that will be part of the next Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027.

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