European Parliament votes for more R&D work to fight diseases of poverty

Eoghan Walsh Press Release

In crucial committee vote, MEPs sign-off on the deal struck between the European Parliament and EU member states on the future EU research programme Horizon Europe.

Brussels, April 2, 2019: In Brussels today, the European Parliament’s research committee voted overwhelmingly to endorse an ambitious EU research agenda for the next decade. The vote endorses a deal reached by the European Parliament’s negotiating team and the current Romanian holders of the rotating EU Council presidency. While negotiations on the budget will continue into the rest of 2019, the vote today confirms that Horizon Europe – the new research agenda covering 2021-2027 will include explicit support for the fight against diseases of poverty such as HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

“With an ambitious budget, Horizon Europe could put EU at vanguard of fight against the global diseases burden”

Speaking after the vote, Cécile Vernant, Head of Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW)’s EU office, said: “Despite the scale of the challenge facing us – poverty-related and neglected diseases affect over 1 billion people – R&D money for these diseases has remained chronically underfunded. We hope that today’s vote will be the first step in a more ambitious EU agenda against diseases of poverty. Not only would new vaccines or drugs funded by EU-backed research save lives, they would also support high quality, added value employment in Europe.”

On what was generally a good day for EU research, the deal reached between the Council and the Parliament  risks leaving EU health research underfunded relative to the current research agenda – down from 9.7% of the total research budget in Horizon 2020, to to 8.2% under its successor. In addition, there remain questions around the affordability and accessibility of the results of publicly funded research supported by the EU, and to what extent research targeted at public goods (health, the environment, etc.) will be compromised by industrial competitiveness concerns. Civil society groups will be watching warily to make sure that public funding goes to real health needs and that the societal impact of EU research is not diluted by profit maximisation motives.

Looking to the final phase of negotiations

Looking towards the next steps, Cecile Vernant said: “Once Parliament has signed off on this vote, we’ll be looking to the MFF negotiations. The big outstanding question is still whether or not we’ll have an ambitious research budget, and one that invests in health. And there are other issues that still need to be resolved if Europe is going to be ambitious on global health R&D. For example: what role with civil society have in defining the research agenda? How much wiggle room is there in the new research ‘missions’ when they come up for review in 2023? And, what a new partnership instrument dedicated to the fight against diseases of poverty will look like once the current European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership comes to an end? A lot has been achieved, but there’s still plenty more to do.”

-ENDS-


Contact:

Eoghan Walsh

Communications Officer, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW)

T: +32 (0) 2 504 90 66 | Mob: +32 (0) 485 399 443

eoghan.walsh@dsw.org | www.dsw.org/

Notes to the Editor

  • The European Commission announced its plans for Horizon Europe in June 2018, and has proposed a budget of €94bn to fund EU research programmes for the period 2021-2027. As part of the Horizon Europe proposal, funding has been set aside for what the European Commission calls “global challenges”, of which health is one (other clusters include digital, climate, and natural resources).
  • While the “health challenge” in the ongoing Horizon 2020 programme makes up almost 10% (9.7%) of the overall R&D budget, the European Commission’s proposal for Horizon Europe foresees only 8.2% of the total budget for the health research cluster in the future research framework programme, while increasing funding for other thematic clusters such as “digital and industry”. According to the Commission, some health-related R&D funding will be provided also from other Horizon Europe pillars. Yet the health cluster, in addition to what is currently financed in the Societal Challenge on health under H2020, will also support the development of medical devices.
  • European Union funding for vital research into new vaccines, treatments, and diagnostic tools for diseases like HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other neglected diseases increased by $40m to $119m, a 50% increase on the previous year. This increase places the EU behind the UK and US as the world’s third largest funder of research into diseases of poverty” link to report: https://www.policycuresresearch.org/g-finder-2018/
  • Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) is a global development organisation that focuses on the needs and potential of the largest youth generation in history. We are committed to creating demand for and access to health information, services, supplies, and economic empowerment for youth. We achieve this by engaging in advocacy, capacity development, and reproductive health initiatives, so that young people are empowered to lead healthy and self-determined lives. With our headquarters in Hannover, Germany, DSW operates two liaison offices in Berlin and Brussels, as well as maintaining a strong presence in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. DSW also advocates for investment in research and innovation to fight poverty-related and neglected tropical diseases.