Societal impact at risk in European Parliament position on the next EU research programme

12 December 2018

Civil society has published a reaction to the European Parliament’s position on Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation framework programme.

We welcome some improvements within thematic clusters and, more broadly, the recognition of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, and the role of citizens and civil society. However, we find that the Parliament did not go far enough to ensure public return on public investment in the programme, and has in some places weakened the existing proposal.

We are concerned that: the definition of societal impact improved, its link to sustainable development remains weak; there no guarantee for dedicated funding for projects focusing on addressing societal challenges in Pillar 2; the parliament failed to address the barriers to societal engagement in R&I agenda-setting; open access principles have been undermined by the Parliament; and the explicit support for the major public-private partnerships with industry without commitments to reform them toward societal impact. We are also extremely concerned about the inclusion of the “innovation principle”, an industry-created tool to undermine social and environmental legislation.

Jill McArdle, EU Advocacy Officer at Global Health Advocates, said:

“We are dismayed that the Parliament declined to put in place concrete safeguards in the next research and innovation programme to ensure it benefits society. There are no assurances that sustainable development will not be side-lined in favour of pursuing industrial competitiveness. The Parliament has taken a disappointing step back on open access and opened the door for industry to undermine important health and environmental regulations. Publicly funded research and innovation should respond to society’s needs and be safe to use, and its results should be accessible to the public. Otherwise we risk having public funding that only serves private interests.” 

Background:

  • In June 2018, the European Commission launched its proposal for the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, set to begin in 2021 and run for 7 years with a budget of almost 100 billion euros.
  • On Wed 12 Dec 2018, the European Parliament voted to confirm its position on the Regulation and Specific Programme for the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe., ahead of negotiations with the Council of the European Union.

Please contact: jmcardle@ghadvocates.org