Snap reaction to the European Commission’s proposal for Horizon Europe, the EU’s next research framework as part of the MFF, for 2021-2027 – from Cecile Vernant, Head of EU Office for global development NGO Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung (DSW)


(Original European Commission proposal here:

On the merger of societal challenges with industrial competitiveness into one ‘pillar’

“Ever since the Commission first indicated that it was considering merging societal challenges with industrial competitiveness into one ‘pillar’ in Horizon Europe, decision-makers have been warned that it will be a bad idea, but today’s proposal confirms their plans. There is no transparency right now about how funding will be divided up between the two issues, and no plan spelling out the risks of this merge or how citizens and public authorities will reap the benefits of this public programme. What we do know is that when issues of public concern and that are reliant on public investment, like health research, are pitted against private sector interests, there will only be one winner – and it won’t be the billion people living today with a poverty-related disease. It looks like the European Parliament and the Council will have to take up this fight to convince the Commission to reverse course.”

On limited budget increase for health research

“Horizon 2020 set aside €7.4 billion for health research (together with demographic change and wellbeing). Commissioner Moedas has increased this in Horizon Europe by a paltry €300 million. When you look at the substantial increases in the budgets of the other global challenges clusters, it smacks of a lack of ambition or willingness in the Commission to tackle head-on the global health challenges facing us, on issues such as the fight against HIV & AIDS, malaria, and TB.

On the position of poverty-related and neglected diseases in the Horizon Europe proposal

“It’s good that the proposal includes a specific reference to the challenge of infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries, but it is far from the recognition made in Horizon 2020 of the need for a comprehensive approach to address diseases of poverty; as the process continues, the Parliament and the Council need to make sure that the EU doesn’t roll back on this commitment.”

On the future of EDCTP as the Commission’s dedicated tool for neglected disease research

“The Commission and EU member states have invested a lot of time and money into making the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership a success in the last decade. Now that we are so close to reaping the benefits of this with new vaccines and medicines are in the pipeline, Horizon Europe needs to include a dedicated instrument that channels EU research funding towards the development of new and improved, and above all necessary, tools to fight diseases of poverty.”

Please also find in the link a joint statement on the European Commission’s Horizon Europe proposal supported by 28 NGOs and civil society organisations.

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.

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