BRUSSELS—European research ministers have approved the content and rules of the giant Horizon 2020 research program at a meeting of the European Union’s Competitiveness Council , held here today. This was the last necessary step before the European Commission can release the 7-year program's first calls for proposals on 11 December.
The vote formally marks the end of 2 years of negotiations between the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of Ministers on the program's detailed features and budget breakdown. It confirms a preliminary agreement reached earlier this year and follows a similar vote at the European Parliament last month .
“These last 2 years have been tough, hard, exhausting but at the same time our work attracted a lot of interest and demonstrated that research and innovation [are] high on the political agenda,” research commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn told ministers just after the vote here today .
The European Commission confirmed that Horizon 2020's first calls for proposals will be launched next week. “These calls will be a huge opportunity for scientists and businesses across the EU and beyond and are not to be missed,” Geoghegan-Quinn said in a statement  following the vote. Draft work programs are already available to download from the European Commission website .
Horizon 2020's overall budget from 2014 to 2020 will be about €70 billion in constant 2011 prices (about €80 billion in current prices). €9.3 billion will be available in the first year .