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News 27 March 2024

40 years of EU Research and Innovation framework programming: clean energy pivotal to a fair and decarbonised society

The latest edition of Research and Innovation (R&I) Week took place between 18 and 21 March 2024. A key moment for the sector, it marked the 40th anniversary of the EU’s research and innovation framework programming and provided an opportunity for the European Commission to unveil several significant updates, directly addressing the role of research in propelling the clean energy transition.

During the flagship event, which brought together prominent policymakers and the European research community, the European Commission adopted Horizon Europe’s 2025-2027 strategic plan. The document outlines the research programme’s main strategic orientations for the next three years, among which is accomplishing the green transition. The document notably underscores that about a third of Horizon’s total budget should be allocated to climate-related topics, while 10% of resources should be dedicated to biodiversity action during the 2025-2027 period. Going further, the European Commission also announced the launch of nine new European co-funded and co-programmed partnerships on a variety of issues, including Innovative Materials for EU, Raw Materials for the Green and Digital Transition, and Solar Photovoltaics.

Prominent policymakers addressed the R&I Week, including Research Commissioner Iliana Ivanova, who, in her opening speech, highlighted how the Framework Programmes have become beacons of excellence by significantly bolstering the EU’s competitiveness, and Helena Braun, Member of the Cabinet of the Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Maroš Šefčovič, who emphasised the key role of researchers and innovators in making the Green Deal a success.

On the side of formal analysis, the recent publication of two studies by the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), further delves into the prominent role of R&I in accomplishing the clean energy transition, as well as boosting competitiveness. The report “Why investing in research and innovation matters for a competitive, green, and fair Europe” acknowledges that while Europe has been observing a quadrupling of the share of trademarks related to climate goods and services in the past 20 years, around 35% of the CO2 reductions necessary by 2050 will be reliant on technologies currently still being developed and researched, therefore calling for increased support to R&I.

The second study on “The added value of European investments in research and innovation” notes the excellence characterising EU-funded research, which has played a significant role in enriching the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s knowledge base on climate change mitigation. It underlines that during the 2007-2020 period, it cited more than 4500 publications, stemming from 12000 EU-funded research projects. EERA welcomes these strong messages of support backed up by comprehensive analyses that recognise the crucial role played by the research in successfully achieving the clean energy transition, especially amidst a particularly challenging context where dedicated budgets are increasingly under scrutiny, as is the case for the overall future unfolding and implementation of the European Green Deal.

Against this backdrop, EERA firmly believes that strong and unwavering support for clean energy research should remain at the heart of the EU’s action, including in the ongoing design of Framework Programme 10 (FP10), which will succeed Horizon Europe in 2028. With its own internal Executive Committee elections coming up in May and many expected milestones to take place throughout the year, EERA will continue its work to uplift the voice of the clean energy research community through its analyses, flagship publications, conferences and events, with the view of further strengthening EERA and the pan-European community of experts it represents as the EU’s leading authority in the field.