In crucial committee vote on the future EU research programme Horizon Europe, Members of the European Parliament call for more public funding to address the burden of AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other neglected tropical diseases.
Brussels, November 20, 2018: European Parliamentarians sitting in the European Parliament’s Research and Industry committee voted in Brussels today on their position on the EU’s research agenda for the next seven years – Horizon Europe. As part of the vote, MEPs called for more ambitious public investments to address the burden of poverty-related and neglected tropical diseases – HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other diseases – as well calling for an increase in the overall research budget from €90bn to €120bn.
“Europe could be at the forefront in the fight against the global diseases burden”
Speaking in Brussels after the vote, Cécile Vernant, Head of DSW’s EU office, said: “we’re thrilled that MEPs have taken on-board the message that the global health community has been telling them – that diseases like HIV & AIDS play a huge role in holding back the development of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. With an ambitious EU research budget at its disposal, Europe could be at the forefront of efforts in the next decade to end these epidemics – by investing in innovative technologies, new vaccines, and new treatments.
“We hope that EU governments and the European Commission will support what MEPs are saying today when they sit down at the negotiating table to finalise the Horizon Europe package.”
Today’s vote was not unanimously positive for global health research. While MEPs called for the Horizon Europe research budget to be increased from the original European Commission proposal of 90bn to 120bn, the proportion of that funding that is aimed at vital health research has declined from 9.7% in the current research budget to 8.2% in Horizon Europe.
Absolute increase, relative decline
Cecile Vernant: “While we’re obviously pleased that health research will see an increase in absolute terms, it has lost out to other sectors which is disappointing. Much of the research needed to tackle the burden of poverty-related and neglected diseases relies on public investment because there is no market incentive for pharma companies to spend money on them.”
What’s more, MEPs did not resolve the issue of the European Commission’s decision to merge the disparate issues of “societal challenges” and “industrial competitiveness” into one funding and policy stream in Horizon Europe. How societal challenges will be safeguarded from industrial pressures is a question that EU research ministers will now have to resolve, when they put forward their position on Horizon Europe on November 30.
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.