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Policy - EuChemS Newsletters

Policy

Future Framework Programme (FP9): why it matters to you, and why it matters to science

You may well have noticed that over the last few weeks, EuCheMS has increasingly been referring to a certain Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) of the European Union, as well as to Framework Programme 9, or FP9. Although this complicated sounding EU jargon may not mean much to you, or to work done in a lab, it is a subject of vital importance to us all.

The MFF will determine the way in which the EU budget is regulated, divided and spent from 2020 onwards – for a minimum of 5 years. The current MFF, covering the period 2014 – 2020, encompasses a whole set of programmes: transport, energy and IT infrastructure (through the connecting Europe facility), education (Erasmus+), job opportunities for youth (Youth Employment Initiative), competitiveness of Europe’s businesses (COSME), and crucially, research and innovation, through the well-known Horizon 2020. To put the value of these funding programmes into perspective, the entire budget for Horizon 2020 is €80 billion in current prices, and €70.2 billion in constant prices.[1]

Our focus on the MFF and FP9 is easy enough to explain: it ultimately boils down to a conversation on where the money will go. And we want to ensure that science, research, and innovation are properly supported, funded and prioritised.

 Context

Plans for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (that is, post-2020) are currently in the pipeline, which is why EuCheMS is ramping up the pressure and communication on the topic. On 23 February 2018, the European Commission presented ‘various options – and their financial consequences – for a new and modern, long-term EU budget that delivers on its priorities after 2020’. The statement follows European Commission President Juncker’s proposal for a Roadmap for a more United, Stronger and More Democratic Union, presented during his State of the Union Address in September 2017.

What about this Future Framework Programme? The next Framework Programme 9 (FP9) is the name given to the funding instrument that will follow the current research Framework Programme: Horizon 2020 (once known as FP8). As such, the budget attributed to the future FP9, its scope, and its core priorities, are essential for the future of research, innovation, and science in Europe.

 Our position

Europe is facing challenges on a variety of levels – social, environmental, economic, health-related, demographic, and more. Science, and chemistry, are in a unique position in this respect. The topics they focus on are varied and far-reaching, meaning that issues can be tackled, and solutions provided on a wide range of matters. But Europe needs to invest much more into research and innovation if the growing challenges we are witnessing are to be dealt with.  Although national funding instruments exist and are extremely useful and beneficial, they cannot be interchanged with EU-level funding – which opens more doors, creates cross-border links, and encourages the exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise, ultimately leading to projects and research with a stronger potential.

EuCheMS, as the voice of Chemistry in Europe, is adamant that the future Framework Programme 9 should recognise the essential role chemistry, and science more generally, plays in ensuring a better future for Europeans. Any decrease in budgets, any watering down of the importance given to scientific research and innovation would be a glaringly damaging move, whose repercussions will be felt far and wide. Not only would it compromise Europe’s approach to dealing with climate change, it would also result in poorer healthcare, poorer food safety, it would harm Europe’s competitive edge, and would remove a vital motivational tool for potential scientists – to name but a few consequences.

Any decrease in budgets, any watering down of the importance given to scientific research and innovation would be a glaringly damaging move.

So, what exactly has EuCheMS said? In January 2018, the European Commission launched a public consultation on EU funds in the area of investment, research & innovation, SMEs and single market to which EuCheMS responded (you can read our response here). In addition, EuCheMS drafted a Position Paper, communicated to the European institutions, laying out in more detail proposals concerning the structure of FP9. The proposals aim to protect excellence and innovation and to provide a pipeline that funds projects through all Technology readiness levels (TRLs) – from basic research to commercialisation.

Moreover, EuCheMS listed eight ‘Missions’ – key areas in which challenges are likely to continue to grow over the coming years. These include: ‘Enabling Our Ageing Population’, ‘Sustainable Low Carbon Energy for All’, ‘Averting an Antimicrobial Resistance Apocalypse’ and ‘Forming a fit-for purpose Food Landscape’, amongst others. It is our hope that these ‘Missions’ and their message will be heard by policy makers in Europe – and that they are taken into account when strategic decisions on the scope, direction and priorities of the future FP9 are taken.

 What next?

The European Commission has largely done its work for now, with its proposal on the research Framework Programme 9 to be presented in the next couple of months. It will then be up to the European Parliament to get cracking on what it sees as needing to be prioritised. Discussions are then to ensue with the Council, as agreements need to be reached between it and the European Parliament before they can be formally adopted.

Over the next weeks and months, EuCheMS will continue to promote its message, meet with Members of the European Parliament, the Commission and other stakeholders. The future Framework Programme will prove highly influential in shaping the state and scope of scientific research and innovation in the future, and EuCheMS will strive to ensure that it is shaped in a way that best benefits research, innovation, chemistry, science, and ultimately, Europe’s citizens.

Alex Schiphorst
EuCheMS Science Communication & Policy Officer

[1] Current prices are the amount that will be effectively requested to the budgetary authority each year. Therefore, current prices include the inflation effect. In the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) regulation, an inflation effect of 2% per year has been set (whatever the real inflation rate).  Constant prices do not factor in an inflation effect and “fix” all amounts at the value of a given year. https://bit.ly/2GTWF0k