Double EU budget, say European university associations

Thirteen university associations, including the European University Association, the League of European Research Universities, the Coimbra Group and the Guild network, have published an open letter to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council, calling for a doubling of the European Union budget for research, innovation and education – to €160 billion (US$198 billion) for the period 2021-28.

“As the European Commission has stated, this doubling would enable the EU to emerge as a global leader in areas like future-energy batteries, smart and clean buildings and vehicles, infectious diseases, and the circular economy. At the same time it would stimulate more inclusive and resilient societies, increase sustainable growth and reduce inequality in Europe,” they said in their letter.

In their letter associations argue that Horizon 2020 is underfunded, with the budget supporting less than one out of five high-quality proposals. In addition, despite the “outstanding” work of Erasmus+ in fostering mobility and employability, European student mobility, at 5%, is far below the 20% Bologna target.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, in a speech to the European Parliament on 14 March, lent his support to the target of doubling funding but appeared less than confident that it could be realized.

He said: “If we went – I dream – up to €160 billion, this would result in the creation of 650,000 jobs by 2040 and an increase in GDP of 0.5%. If we did – in fact, I think we should – the European Union will become one of the world’s leading players in the areas of research and innovation.”