The budget commissioner for the EU has called upon member states to put more money into research in the 2021 to 2027 budget.
Oettinger’s comments followed the announcement that the net contributors, including Germany and the Netherlands, will support the EU’s next long-term budget until substantial cuts are made to the commission’s proposal. This suggests cuts to research are likely due to the other areas of the budget being protected by the countries that benefit from them.
The European Commission wants to increase the spending on research from €77bn (from 2014 to 2020) to €94.1bn (between 2021 and 2027). Oettinger highlighted that, in addition to compensating for the loss of the UK’s contributions after Brexit, boosting the research budget is part of the rationale for asking the EU27 to pay more.
“We have a Brexit gap, which we did not wish to close only by cuts,” he said. “With the member states’ agreement, we wish to promote research, we needed to promote digital development,” as well as other programmes, like border protection.
Oettinger disagreed with the arguments over net payers and net beneficiaries, branding them to be outdated. The commission wants to modernise the EU budget and programmes, one example of this is the €94.1bn research programme, Horizon Europe, “Are not necessarily going to pay money back to member states in terms of the contributions which they have made, so there is no longer any relevance of this whole argument, [of] ‘I’m a net payer,’” said Oettinger.
“I only hope that these modern elements of the financial framework will not be sacrificed on the altar of the cuts which some are demanding,” Oettinger added.