In agreeing their position on the EU’s future research programme for 2021-2027 this week, EU Council of Ministers support R&D funding for HIV & AIDS, TB, malaria and other diseases of poverty, but fail to push for an increase in health research funding.
Brussels, November 26, 2018: EU research ministers, working under the current Austrian Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers has this week agreed a position on the EU’s research programme for 2021-2027, Horizon Europe. Their negotiating position, known as a “partial general approach” (see attached) has included poverty-related and neglected tropical diseases – HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and a range of other diseases – as a focus area for EU health research in the next decade.
“Europe could be at the forefront in the fight against the global diseases burden”
Speaking in Brussels, Jill McArdle from Global Health Advocates said: “it’s encouraging that EU research ministers are agreeing with the European Parliament, on the recommendations of civil society in acknowledging the crucial role that EU investment in the fight against diseases of poverty. Without it, it is hard to see where or how the global health community will be able to develop the necessary drugs and medical treatments that we need to face down this global health challenge.
“It augurs well for the coming negotiations between the Council and the Parliament on the final makeup of Horizon Europe – negotiations that are extremely important for both institutions.”
Absolute increase, relative decline
That is where the good news stops, however. Rejecting a call by the European Parliament on November 20 for an increase in the research budget from 90bn to 120bn, EU research ministers have continued to stand by the budget as originally proposed by the European Commission. In addition, they have agreed with the Commission proposal to increase health research funding from €7.4bn to €7.7bn – which works out as a proportional reduction from 9.7% to 8.2% for health research in the next EU research budget compared its predecessor.
Cecile Vernant Head of EU Office for German development NGO Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) said: “It’s all well and good putting forward ambitious plans and pushing for the EU to be a global R&D leader, but we wish to see these being translated into ambitious funding proposals by EU ministers. This is a particular disappointment for the health sector, where innovation has the potential to produce transformative changes in the quality of life of millions of people around the world. We look forward to more movement on this during the negotiations with the European Parliament.”
Communications Officer, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW)
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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,
- According to the most recent G-Finder report, EU support for poverty-related diseases research dropped by almost 40% to $77m in 2016. The G-finder report attributes this reduction to uneven disbursements by the European Commission to the EU’s main funding instrument in this area, the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). Traditionally, the EU is a strong supporter of PRND R&D and was the second largest public funder worldwide in 2015. More details here.
- 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.
- Global Health Advocates is a civil society organisation that advocates for policy change at EU and French level to tackle major health threats, build sustainable health systems and enhance health equity. GHA works towards an EU that puts people’s needs and their health at the core of its health, development and research and innovation policies.