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How Would You Spend €100 Billion?

The European Commission have launched the first detailed proposal for the structure of the Horizon Europe framework, which will run from 2021 to 2027 and has a provisional budget of nearly €100 billion ($117 billion), Nature News reports. That budget does not include a contribution from Britain, which will leave the European Union in 2019, but is about €33 billion higher than that of Horizon 2020, which runs from 2014 to 2020.

Horizon Europe aims to serve basic research and innovation, and solve some of the major challenges that face society, Nature News says. More than half of the total funding, €52.7 billion, will go into societal challenges arm. With this money, researchers will respond to specific calls for research in health, inclusive and secure society, digital and industry, climate, energy and mobility, and food and natural resources.

In this section, EC commissioner for research and innovation Carlos Moedas says that €5 billion to €10 billion will be set aside to create moonshot-style research projects to address global problems, according to Nature News. The public, the European Parliament, experts, and individual countries will have a say in designing these projects. 

The program will also encourage innovators to propose ideas for research and to seek funding. More than €10 billion of the proposed budget will go into a newly created European Innovation Council, which will aim to bringing groundbreaking new technologies to market. It will fund individual researchers and businesses in a similar way to how the European Research Council funds researchers to conduct basic science. The EIC will also invest in start-up companies to help them scale up using financing that is part grant and part repayable loan. 

Further, Nature News adds, all countries for the first time will be allowed to take part in Horizon Europe, which would allow the UK to take part after Brexit. Existing rules allowed only countries that have specific trading links, are close neighbours to the southeast of the continent, or are attempting to join the EU to associate with the program. But a new agreement will allow any nation that meets certain criteria to negotiate access to all or parts of the program for a financial contribution. The UK has already made clear that it would be willing to pay to access the EC's research and innovation programs, the article notes.

The proposal and budget for Horizon Europe will now be subject to negotiations and an approval process in the European Parliament and council of national ministers. Funding from any association agreements will also be added to the pot.