Today, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) have called for an “ambitious” long-term EU budget for research, innovation and education.
LERU stated that Europe’s universities are “disappointed and concerned” by what they describe as the “limited” budget proposed for the EU’s flagship higher education and research programmes Horizon Europe and Erasmus+, claiming that the current Horizon budget has been cut by 3% compared to a 2018 Commission proposal.
LERU represents over 800 universities across Europe, including Trinity.
LERU stated before the beginning of the Covid 19 crisis that €120 billion would be necessary to address their needs for the programme.
Plans to double the Erasmus budget by the European Commission, or triple as proposed by the European Parliament, have not been met, with proposed funding for the programme currently standing at €24.6 billion, compared to €14.7 billion for the 2014-2020 period.
Speaking on this, LERU stated: “Both Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ are investments in our future and in our youth. They will reinforce Europe’s capacities to face today’s challenges, and those yet to come.”
The press release by the organisation stated that Europe’s universities “welcome the European Union’s approach to embark on a sustainable recovery path”.
LERU urged universities to ensure funding programmes support “science in all areas”, “encourage and facilitate collaboration across disciplines”, “foster timely association” of interested non-EU countries to Horizon Europe.
LERU has also urged EU leaders to recognise the “long-term benefit” of strengthening investigator-driven frontier research to achieve a proper balance of bottom-up and top-down approaches, throughout Horizon Europe.
The statement by LERU also emphasised how “errors made in the past should not be repeated” and only “long-term, holistic and collaborative approaches” will help Europe recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
The organisation continued: “Such challenges may take various forms and solutions will require mobilising various types of knowledge, citizens, and society.”
Horizon 2020 was the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years, from 2014 to 2020.
Horizon Europe is a planned 7-year EU scientific research initiative meant to succeed the current Horizon 2020 programme. The European Commission drafted and approved a plan for Horizon Europe to raise EU science spending levels by 50% over the years 2021-2027.
LERU stated: “We, universities of Europe, urge European leaders to step up investment in research, innovation and education to foster long-term strategic resilience, enabling Europe to strongly reinforce its role as a global leader in this respect.”