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Manchester: EU Commissioner Moedas reassures UK researchers and launches €8.5bn EU work programme for 2017
EU Research, Science and Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas has acknowledged current uncertainty among researchers in the UK and stressed that "for as long as the UK is a member of the European Union, EU law continues to apply and the UK retains all rights and obligations of a Member State. This of course includes the full eligibility for funding under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme."
The Commissioner, speaking at the 2016 Euroscience forum (ESOF 2016) in Manchester, added: "Horizon 2020 projects will continue to be evaluated based on merit and not on nationality. So I urge the European scientific community to continue to choose their project partners on the basis of excellence."
The Commissioner also announced the updated Horizon 2020 "calls" (invitations to bid for funding in specific areas) for 2017 (full details here). These will be worth €8.5 billion and eligible research areas include for example food security, climate change, smart cities and migration. All Horizon 2020 calls and related information are published on a single "participant portal".
All the calls and related activities will contribute substantially to strengthening Europe’s global competitiveness through innovation, thus creating new and sustainable jobs and promoting growth
Projects funded under Horizon 2020 will now be expected to publish their results with open access so that anybody, not just the research community, can read them. Commissioner Moedas said: "By continuing to allow the gap between public perception and scientific ambition to increase, we risk, at best, apathy and, at worst, complete distrust at a crucial juncture. Europe should not only be part of a Global Research Area that embraces open science, we should lead the way to this new Global Research Area."
He added that the European Commission is working on amendments to EU copyright provisions which will allow a stable legal framework allowing researchers can search through existing databases (data mining).
During his stay in Manchester Commissioner Moedas is also meeting the High Level Group of the Scientific Advisory Mechanism - a new mechanism that he introduced to provide independent science advice to the European Commission. The group is composed of seven members with an outstanding level of expertise who cover a wide range of fields. Among its members is Dame Julia Slingo from the MetOffice.
The Commissioner will also visit the Graphene Institute in Manchester, funded substantially by EU grants.
Spanning seven years (2014 to 2020) and with a budget of €77 billion, Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation funding programme ever.
By the end of May 2016 British organisations had been awarded about €2.2bn since the EU's current Horizon 2020 funding programme began in 2014. The UK was also among the biggest beneficiaries of the EU's earlier "Framework Programmes," receiving over €7bn between 2007-13 under "FP7". This amounted to roughly 13% of the total funding available.
These figures include only money directly allocated to UK organisations. They are usually working in cross-border projects receiving overall a multiple of these amounts for work which ultimately aims to benefit the UK, Europe and often the world.