CARDIFF, Wales, Jan. 30, 2013 — A portion of the European Commission’s proposed €80 billion (about $108.5 billion) research and innovation budget for the Horizon 2020 program could be cut, and now SPIE is calling the photonics community to action, urging that the program’s full funding be protected.
The European Union’s photonics research program is important not only to the optics and photonics sector, but also to the economic competitiveness and quality of life for Europeans, say SPIE leaders. Horizon 2020 funding represents only 8% of the total European Commission budget for the period.
“Don’t jeopardize the future and European competitiveness!” said Dr. Eugene Arthurs, SPIE CEO and a member of the Board of Stakeholders of Photonics21. “In the current budget squabble, Horizon 2020 should be protected and not reduced as part of a general budget agreement or sacrificed to appease a factional interest. The innovation community is acutely aware that cutting Horizon2020 would signal that the EU leadership only talk the talk when it comes to innovation.”
Arthurs added that investment in research and development is needed if the EU wants to meet its target of spending 3 percent gross domestic expenditure on R&D by 2020 and to stay ahead of competitors. Since around 2000, the EU has spent about 2 percent of its gross domestic expenditure, while the US is currently investing 2.7 percent. Meanwhile, leading Asian economies have already exceeded the target.
SPIE leaders urge members to remind their European Parliament representatives that, although cuts must be made, they must be made wisely, Arthurs said. Robust and stable R&D funding will help build the foundation needed to secure Europe’s standing as a leader in science in the future.
Talks among the budget decision makers from the European Council, Commission, and Parliament begin next week. Leaders from Ireland, which holds the Presidency of the European Council through June, have said they will push for the 2014-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework agreement by this summer although many observers say resolve that soon is unlikely.
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