Pharma R&D exodus on the Horizon? EU industry bemoans funding cuts

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Juncker's European Fund for Strategic Investments to get budget diverted from Horizon 2020
Juncker's European Fund for Strategic Investments to get budget diverted from Horizon 2020

Related tags European union

European drug industry groups have contrasted 'misguided' cuts to the Horizon 2020 budget with US plans to increase NIH funding for science R&D under the 21st Century Cures Bill.

EFPIA, EGA and EuropaBio voiced concerns about the Commission’s agreement to funnel €2.2bn ($2.4bn) of the €74bn earmarked for Horizon 2020 into the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), arguing that it will hurt innovation.

We recognise the desire of the Commission to secure the financial viability of the EFSI with its worthwhile aim of increasing private and public investment across the European Union.

“However,” ​they continued “this should not be achieved through a misguided reduction in resourcing the science budget and, with this, scientific projects across Europe. Such a move clearly undermines the Commission’s major effort in setting up Horizon 2020​.”

The industry groups contrasted the changes to the Horizon 2020 plan with efforts to increase R&D funding in the US – where the 21st​ Century Cures Bill was approved by the House of Representatives on May 21​ – saying they noted the latter decision “with interest​.”

We note with interest the recent efforts in the US to increase the budget of the National Institutes for Health by $10bn over the next 5 years – a move to invest, rather than reduce funding​.”

European Research Council

The cuts to Horizon 2020 had been expected since November when Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced his intention to divert €2.7bn to the EFSI, which is intended to stimulate Europe’s economy.

Under the original proposal, some €221m of the €2.7bn was due to come from the budget allocated for the European Research Council, which is a Horizon 2020 funded support organisation for investigator driven research.

However, after negotiations ERC funding will not now be involved.

This decision was welcomed by EFPIA, EGA and EuropaBio which said: “[We] would like to commend the positive efforts of the European Parliament in defending the Horizon 2020 budget within the framework of the trialogue meeting with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission.

It is through the laudable efforts of MEPs that funding for the European Research Council and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, which promote scientific excellence and research career development, has been maintained at its intended level.​”

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