This position paper details the issues most relevant for the advancement of research and innovation in Flanders and was written to provide input to the negotiations in the European Parliament and Council on the EU budget 2014-2020. To ensure Flanders/Belgium speaks with one voice to the European policymakers, the issues in this VRWI-position paper are also repeated in the Belgian position paper on Horizon 2020.
In this position paper the VRWI welcomes a number of features in the Commission Horizon 2020 proposal, namely:
- The increased budget for science and innovation. It is crucial that the proposed budget of 80 billion euro is maintained in its entirety;
- That excellence has been retained as a main driver in the decision-making process, regardless of geographic considerations;
- The facilitation of SME participation, which needs to be carefully monitored;
- The emphasis on societal challenges;
- The intention for social sciences and humanities to be integral to Horizon 2020;
- The steps towards simplification, which need to be maintained in the forthcoming implementation.
However, the VRWI is concerned about:
- The uniform introduction of a 20% flat rate for indirect costs. The VRWI recommends that either a higher flat rate for indirect costs is introduced or that the full-cost option is reinstated for those not-for-profit organization that possess the required financial management;
- The limited budget increase for the Marie Curie Actions. The VRWI suggests an increase of 40% on the FP7 budget;
- The unclear division of labour between the Enterprise Europe Network and the National Contact Points;
- The possible introduction of stringent 'Europe First' IP valorisation requirements;
- Possible lack of coherence between Horizon 2020 and Joint Programming;
- Missed opportunities for cross-border collaboration between knowledge institutions from different Member States;
- The current system of European topping-up. Instead, the VRWI argues that a certain amount of European funding should be used as 'glue' in the European research and innovation ecosystem.