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Open letter on EU research funding for 2014-2020

21 February 2013

To: Members of the European Parliament, Member States of the European Union

Dear Member of the European Parliament, dear Madam, dear Sir,

You are now involved in the final negotiations around the EU’s budget for 2014-2020. The position reached by the European Council’s February 8th meeting concludes that a significant cut in research funding is being considered. According to European Commission estimates, this would translate into a €10 billion cut in Horizon 2020, out of an original €80 billion budget [1].

Civil society organisations have been denouncing Horizon 2020’s excessive corporate bias since the very first Green paper published by the Commission in 2011 [2], but big business’ lobbying prevailed. As it stands, the project is divided into three pillars, with the entire second pillar - more than €20 billion – allocated to a program called “Industrial leadership”, for activities with a “business-driven agenda” [3].

Past experience with similar business-driven EU Research programs shows that despite promises that the priority for these funds will be SMEs, for new research projects, they have mainly been captured by large multinational corporations, to finance research activities that were already planned [4]. This means that these much-needed research funds have been transformed into industry subsidies, with little added value in terms of research results and questionable legitimacy when these same companies slash their workforce while still paying out dividends and bonuses. One example is the Joint Technology Initiative “Clean Sky”, a public-private partnership between the European Commission and industry, in which €400 million of taxpayers’ money is directly transferred to the largest companies participating (such as EADS, Thales, Dassault, Finmeccanica, Rolls-Royce...) [5].

Dedicating even more money to a failed policy is not an acceptable use of scarce public funds. We request that the “Industrial Leadership” program is the sole recipient of budget cuts, and that more money is made available for crucial research needs in areas such as food safety, preventative health policy, fundamental public research, ecology-focussed agriculture or renewable energies. Public research funding should go to public interest projects.


ARC 2020
ASEED Europe
BUKO Pharma-Kampagne
Corporate Europe Observatory
Committe for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN)
Earth Open Source
European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC)
European Public Services Union (EPSU)
European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER)
Fondation Sciences Citoyennes
Fondazione Italiana per la Ricerca in Agricoltura Biologica e Biodinamica (FIRAB)
GMWatch Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) EU Group
Living Knowledge Network
Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (NABU)
Pesticides Action Europe (PAN)
Wissenschaftsladen Wien - Science Shop Vienna


[1] In Downsized E.U. Budget, Mixed News for Research, Science Insider, 11 February 2013
[2] Public Research should benefit Society, not Big Business - An Open Letter on the Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation Funding – Fondation Sciences Citoyennes, 29 June 2011
[3] Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and Council establishing Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020), European Commission, 30 November 2011, Report on the proposal for a Council decision establishing the Specific Programme Implementing Horizon 2020 - The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014 – 2020), (COM(2011)0811 – C7-0509/2011 – 2011/0402(CNS)), European Parliament, 8 January 2013
[4] EU research funding: for whose benefit? - S. Gardner and Corporate Europe Observatory, 5 December 2011
[5] Ibid.

Last updated on 16 May 2013

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