Preliminary data on Horizon Europe programme applications was made available recently. This data shows an increase in the success rate of applicants, from 12% to 15.8%. As of mid-August, there are 25320 eligible proposals, out of which the aforementioned almost 16% is retained. The figures on the dashboard are to be updated on a monthly basis.
While the improvement is certainly beneficial for researchers, these results are still considered not completely satisfying by many, as numerous well evaluated proposals were said to remain unfunded.
Further concerns were raised in light of the European Council’s proposal, which includes significant €663 million cut of Horizon Europe’s 2023 budget allocated by the commission. The proposal outlines a €122 million cut of the European Research Council (ERC), as well as €33 million less for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) and €27 million less for research infrastructures. Christian Ehler, head of Industry, Technology and Research committee (ITRE) and Horizon Europe co-rapporteur heavily protested the proposed cut, alongside numerous MEPs of the committee.
In addition to budgetary concerns from the parliament, research university associations also called for improved transparency of how the funding is allocated within the framework of the programme, as well as more clear-cut descriptions of the priorities. In an open letter, while appreciating the EU focus on research and innovation, the Eurotech Alliance Universities pointed out that Horizon funds often accumulate around commission priorities. The alliance urged the Commission to “openly inform stakeholders on how much of the Horizon Europe funds have been allocated and granted to non-Horizon Europe priorities” to increase transparency.