While the European Commission says it won't touch the European Research Council's budget, it is planning to funnel some €2.2 billion ($2.4 billion) of the Horizon 2020 program's €74 billion budget to a new program aimed at bolstering the European economy, ScienceInsider reports.
EC President Jean-Claude Juncker announced late last year that he wanted to move funds from the Horizon 2020, Connecting Europe Facility, and European Investment Bank programs, among others, to develop the European Fund for Strategic Investment. Juncker argued that the fund could also attract additional money from national governments and industry.
Critics have argued that Juncker has been overly optimistic in his estimation of how much additional money the fund may attract and have said that it will negatively affect basic and, in the long run, applied research in Europe.
ScienceInsider reports that the EC now says it will find the funds it was to glean from the European Research Council and two other Horizon 2020 budget lines, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie and the Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation programs. Those programs support individual basic researchers, PhD students and postdocs, and countries with struggling research performance, respectively, ScienceInsider adds.
"This compromise concerning the budget gives a clear sign that frontier research has an important role to play in Europe and that the support for it will always be given proper consideration," says ERC President Jean-Pierre Bourguignon said in a statement.
Another critic, the League of European Research Universities, ScienceInsider notes, was less pleased and argues that taking funds at all from the Horizon 2020 program is a bad idea.