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VU International News and Reviews No. 109 March 26 2018

March 2018

Not a day passes without new voices in the choir of stakeholders adding their opinion on what FP9, the successor to Horizon 2020 should look like. The UK government and no less than 13 universities’ networks have gone public recently.

The UK in its FP9 position paper basically calls for continuation: of excellence, relevance, openness, diminished red tape, regional balance, European added value. Like Tom Lehrer once said about protest singers; “it takes courage to speak out in favour of the things that everybody else is against, like peace and brotherhood and so on.”

The LERU-led group of 13 university networks in its statement found it hard to agree on much except: “Double the budget”.

The Young European Research Universities Network YERUN – also part of the group of 13 groups – did formulate a more specific coherent message in its position paper: besides calling for adequate funding and diminished red tape (yawn), it says FP9 should *) engage society, *) further open science, *) look for a broader perspective on impact, and *) promote young researchers’ careers.

In this, YERUN takes a similar societally-inclined position as Aurora, which suggest a connection between FP9 and the “Macron Initiative” and pleas for transdisciplinary research, involving societal stakeholders from even before the first problem statement.

Of course, the European Commission will freely cherry-pick from all these statements to create the programme that they had in mind all along. They will always be able to refer to some element in some statement, saying “we follow the wishes of the field”. And truth be told, I trust the Commission officials better to balance the various perspectives and keep their eye on the common interest than any of us lobbyists.


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