The new boss of the European Commission has sparked criticism with plans to raid the European Union's science budget to fodder a new investment fund aimed at boosting Europe's sluggish economy and creating new jobs.
In his first big move after about three weeks in office, Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed diverting €2.7 billion from Horizon 2020, the bloc's €70-billion, 7-year research funding program, into a new "Investment Plan for Europe.” Combined with money from the Connecting Europe Facility, which funds broadband and transport projects, from the European Investment Bank, and from unspecified “budget margins,” the fund would put €21 billion on the table. Juncker says this could attract 15 times that amount from industry and national governments, to reach €315 billion in the next three years.
Some research organizations aren't convinced that the €2.7 billion cut from Horizon 2020 will eventually benefit research, as Juncker claimed yesterday when he presented the plan to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. "Horizon 2020 is not a lemon! Stop squeezing it!" the League of European Research Universities (LERU) said in a statement issued yesterday.