While the European Union faces one of the biggest economic crises since it has been created, especially in terms of public finances, it seems more than ever vital to implement an ambitious and coordinated strategy to restart the European machine. In this context and keeping this objective in mind, the European Commission will launch Horizon 2020, the 2014-2020 Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. Horizon 2020 is indeed the main instrument for implementing “Innovation Union”, one of the most crucial initiatives of the Europe 2020 growth strategy.
With a global budget of more than 70 billion euros, this unprecedented programme of worldwide ambition is split into three pillars: excellence in science, competitive industries and tackling societal challenges. Through these three axes, in a more multidisciplinary and flexible approach than it used to be, the European Commission wants to take up scientific challenges linked to societal themes such as health and demography, food safety and agriculture, clean and safe energy, intelligent and green transports, climate change, raw materials and other resources, safety and protection of liberties, innovative and inclusive societies.
This initiative fits into a global context of looking for the best cost/efficiency ratio to reduce pressure on public finances. Indeed, research and innovation being factors of employment, growth and competitiveness, the EU intends to grow a real single market for knowledge, research and innovation. To do so, several key-elements have been targeted. It is for example to simplify, clarify and thus ease the access to financings and innovation for SME’s, which are known to be one of the most significant contributors to economic activity within the EU; or to promote the appearance of new Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) that gather organizations and make them collaborate on long-term projects in order to tackle major social issues, through the European Institute of Innovation and Technologies (EIT). Otherwise at the same time, Horizon 2020 should enable industries to master Key Enabling Technologies (KET) while furthering a coherent and integrated approach on innovative projects, especially on “close-to-market” projects. These technologies are indeed a solid base for innovation and a competitive lever for the European industry.
Moreover, Horizon 2020 should contribute to strengthening and increasing scientific excellence in Europe, which is the base of tomorrow innovation. To make Horizon 2020 understandable for as many people as possible, simplifying the rules and procedures would have been a leitmotiv all along the preparation and negotiation phase.
Upon this major change in the EU research program framework, this new issue of the European Files allows the different contributors to bring their perspective on the many subjects mentioned.
Editor-in-chief, The European Files