Go back

Coimbra Group signs open letter against Horizon Europe 2023 budget cuts

29 September 2022

In the light of the proposal of the Council of the EU to cut the 2023 draft budget for Horizon Europe by €663 million, the Coimbra Group co-signed an open letter, together with several university and research associations, urging the EU Member States to reconsider the proposed budget reduction. The European Commission has planned a €12.3 billon budget for Horizon Europe in 2023, with a top-off of €1.8 billon from the NextGenEU recovery fund. However, as part of the interinstitutional discussions, the Council presented its position with a cut of €663 million for Horizon Europe, to be now negotiated with the European Parliament. The proposed budget cuts send a wrong signal at the wrong time, and will severely hit programmes such as the ERC or the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme. This letter was addressed to the Czech Presidency of the EU Council on 29 September 2022:

Multiple global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and generation-spanning challenges such as climate change are currently putting a heavy strain on public budgets all over the world. Financial resources are not unlimited and have to be carefully distributed between a multitude of burning issues, making it necessary to prioritise.

The rapid development of vaccines against COVID-19 has proven what joining forces and channelling resources can achieve. It has also shown that continuous, far-sighted investment in fundamental research as well as in close-to-market innovation is of paramount importance for having the right tools at hand when they are most urgently needed. It allows us to act swiftly and deal better with unforeseen adversities. While scientific discoveries are no panacea, they are an integral part of the solution. Without science-based evidence and new developments, we will not be able to address many of the challenges the world is facing.

Against this backdrop, we are deeply concerned about the substantial and disproportionate cuts to the 2023 budget of Horizon Europe as proposed by the Council in July 20221. The cuts amount to over €663 million from Horizon Europe, heavily impacting core programmes and initiatives that are key for helping the European Union to deal with the current and future crises. They put at risk Europe’s capability to act, and they create great uncertainty for European researchers and innovators whose engagement is vital at a time when we so desperately need to address these challenges.

Moreover, the proposed cuts come while Europe’s competitors are ramping up their investments in key sectors like semiconductors and climate change adaptation. For instance, earlier this year, the United States adopted the Inflation Reduction Act and the Chips and Science Act. The latter increases research and science spending by over $80 billion over the baseline2. The National Natural Science Foundation of China saw an increase in their funding budget by 6.8% this year3. Reducing European spending for research and innovation is in stark contrast with the political priorities agreed in the trilogue between the Commission, the Parliament and the Council. It will not only jeopardise the European Union’s global competitiveness and entice our bright minds to seek more favourable conditions outside Europe but also send the wrong signal at the wrong time and deter private investment.

We therefore urge the EU Member States to reconsider the proposed budget cuts for these vital European funding schemes, which are already heavily oversubscribed. A financially well-equipped Horizon Europe is key to addressing the current and future challenges all European citizens are facing and to help Europe secure its global competitiveness.

The letter, including the list of signatories, is available here