BRUSSELS—European researchers should be cautious about their hopes for a big budget boost under Horizon 2020, several observers told a meeting here yesterday. Financial constraints among E.U. member states could shrink the proposed €80 billion budget to €60 billion or even less, Christopher Hull, secretary general of the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations, told the audience at Horizon 2020 and the Future of European Research. Starting in 2014, Horizon 2020 will be the European Union's main research funding program, awarding grants to university-based and industrial research in engineering, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
Even the European Commission's €80 billion proposal isn't quite the 40% increase it might seem at first glance, Hull noted. Framework Programme 7 (FP7), the current funding program that started in 2006, had a total budget of about €57 billion, but its yearly outlays increased from just over €5 billion in 2006 to a slated €10 billion this year and next. That means that a flat E.U. research budget for the next 7 years would require at least €70 billion for Horizon 2020, Hull said.