Morten Oestergaard, Minister for Research, Innovation and Higher Education, chaired today's Competiveness Council in Brussels.
The EU Member States back Denmark’s wish to secure a central placement for social sciences and humanities in the hunt for solutions to great societal challenges through the world’s largest publicly-financed research programme Horizon 2020.
During the Competitiveness Council meeting 21 February, Member States continued their discussions on Horizon 2020, which will not only be the world’s largest publicly-financed research programme with a proposed budget of EUR 80 billion, but also the strongest.
Today’s meeting follows on from the informal ministerial meeting in Copenhagen 1 - 3 February and primarily focused on two transversal issues within Horizon 2020; to secure a prominent position for social sciences and humanities within the programme and to make the programme more attractive for SMEs.
Concerns have been raised by the research world and a number of member states on whether the importance of social sciences and humanities is reflected in the efforts to tackle great societal challenges, which will be a cornerstone of the new programme.
Following today’s negotiations, President and Danish Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education Morten Østergaard Formand says:
”The solutions to complex societal challenges require interdisciplinarity. The Council has had a longer discussion on this very issue and I am pleased that there is generally broad support for focusing on social sciences and humanities as transversal elements in the coming research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.”
The question of SME participation in Horizon 2020 has also been examined. There is agreement that the programme must be attractive for SMEs and that member states have an important role in ensuring a connection between Horizon 2020 and the business community.
The Commission also presented the “Innovation for Sustainable Growth: a Bioeconomy for Europe” strategy at the meeting. The proposed strategy and action plan shall pave the way for a more innovative and competitive society that reconciles food security with environmental protection and a sustainable use of resources. The strategy builds on the seventh framework programme (FP7) and the proposal for Horizon 2020.
The Danish Presidency aims to achieve agreement on the content of Horizon 2020 by May at the latest.
“Horizon 2020 will ensure a closer link between research and innovation, while also ensuring that new research results will be translated to marketable solutions to a greater extent. We are in the middle of an economic crisis and unemployment is rife - not least among young Europeans. The programme therefore is not just about research, but about creating future jobs for our young people. We must find a balance and a result that all countries can be satisfied with, without compromising our ambitions to encourage top quality research,” says Morten Østergaard.