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European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
EP Plenary debate on Horizon 2020
Opening remarks / Strasbourg
20 November 2013
It is a real pleasure to be here for this debate today on the Horizon 2020 legislative package.
The vote will allow Horizon 2020 to start on time in January, something that researchers and stakeholders all across Europe are waiting for. But Horizon 2020 is not just about research and innovation, crucial though they are. Horizon 2020 has much bigger ambitions – to play a major role in Europe's fight for jobs and growth.
Let me first of all thank the ITRE Committee and the eleven Parliament Committees that together contributed to this excellent result.
A particular thank you to the ITRE rapporteurs: Ms Riera Madurell, Ms Carvalho, Mr Ehler, and the shadow-rapporteurs Mr Glante, Mr Johansson, Ms Ford, Ms Matias, Mr Lamberts. Without you these results would not have been possible.
It is almost impossible to consider the reports separately as they have been always treated as a package, and they are a package! So I will simply focus on some of the main achievements obtained thanks to your work.
On the budget, we agreed during the last trilogue of 25 June on a balanced budget distribution. I am conscious that while the budget of 70.2 billion Euro represents an increase of around 25% when compared to equivalent activities under the current MFF, this is of course significantly less than the 80 billion Euro proposed by the Commission and far below the 100 billion Euro called for by the Parliament.
However, we must remember that the overall MFF negotiations were extremely difficult and that Horizon 2020 is the only major area in the new MFF to see an increase. The compromise still gives a strong signal of the importance of continuing to invest now in the drivers of the economy of tomorrow.
From the very beginning of my mandate, I was determined to cut red tape and to make Horizon 2020 simpler, more coherent and more accessible than its predecessors.
Thanks to your support, the job is done!
Horizon 2020 has a simpler and more coherent structure that will provide support at every step from lab to factory to market.
While the current generation of programmes has lots of different rules, Horizon 2020 applies the same rules everywhere. That means it is much easier to apply for and participate in projects. These new rules are more business and SME-friendly and easily accessible to new participants. A single set of rules covering eligibility, accounting and auditing will apply across the board.
The reimbursement of project costs will be much simpler with a single reimbursement rate for most projects. That means less paperwork and fewer audits.
It's important that successful applicants can get started as soon as possible, so time to grant will be drastically reduced in Horizon 2020. I know that this was a priority for all political groups, a real horizontal issue for the Parliament.
Who stands to benefit from Horizon 2020?
First and foremost, Horizon 2020 will be good for Europe's citizens.
With its focus on delivering both economic and societal impacts, Horizon 2020 will tackle the issues that matter most to people: stimulating growth and competitiveness, creating new and better jobs and finding answers to our biggest societal challenges.
Horizon 2020 will be good for researchers who want to collaborate across borders to find the solutions to these challenges.
It will enable the world's best scientists to carry out risky but promising research in universities and research centres across Europe, thanks to a bigger budget for the ERC.
Horizon 2020 will be good for businesses that spot the market potential of the results of this excellent research because Horizon 2020 will accompany and support them with new close-to-market actions.
The programme will be good for industry, with dedicated support for ICT, nanotechnology, materials and production technology. Five public/private Partnerships dealing with innovative medicines; fuel cells and hydrogen; aeronautics; bio-based industries; and electronics, are expected to mobilise up to around 22 billion euro of investments, with 8 billion coming from the EU.
It will be good for SMEs, who will receive a total of 8.64 billion euro in research grants and receive further financing through equity and loan financial instruments.
It will be good for Regions and Member States that are currently lagging behind, who stand to benefit, with measures to spread excellence and encourage smart specialisation.
Horizon 2020 will be good for all these different stakeholders, and it will help them in a more efficient and accessible way, with bigger impacts for taxpayers' money.
Let me just conclude these opening remarks by thanking you once again for your tireless work and support throughout this entire process.
Overall, our collaboration has been excellent and we have found some innovative and pragmatic solutions to any problems that arose along the way.
Your vote tomorrow is very important. It is a decisive step in launching Horizon 2020, which will give Europe's researchers and innovators many opportunities in the next seven years to achieve great things.
Thank you very much.