The European Commission is planning to cut back research and innovation funding by billions of euros in the coming years. Dutch universities are concerned: “It’s an ill-advised decision.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, the new president of the European Commission, wants to give a boost to the eurozone economy with a big investment plan. The funds for this plan, if it’s up to the commission, will partially be taken from Horizon 2020, the European programme for research and innovation. According to a proposal published this week, starting next year the programme will lose 2.7 billion euros to the European Fund for Strategic Investment.

The European Research Council would ultimately have to give up 221 million euros in the years to come. Many Dutch researchers are currently being funded by grants from the ERC. Year after year they bring more money to the country than the Netherlands contributes to the research programme.

Ill-advised decision

VSNU, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands, is concerned about the European Commission’s plan. “It is an ill-advised decision to take money intended for research and innovation and use it on unknown and undefined investment projects,” responds VSNU President Karl Dittrich.

Funding from own pocket

Dittrich welcomes extra investments in the European economy, but not at the cost of the budget for knowledge and innovation. It’s funding from our own pocket, claims the VSNU. Dittrich explains: “In this move, Europe really burns itself; knowledge is crucial for innovation and maintaining Europe’s competitive position.”

The commission’s proposal still needs to be passed by the European Parliament and the member states. Negotiations begin next week. The new fund should be started in the course of 2015. HOP