On 31 October 2017, the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic published its preliminary position paper on the design of the 9th EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9), now called Horizon Europe.

The paper includes the following key points:

  • FP9 should remain a research and innovation programme and support the entire innovation process – from basic research to close-to-market solutions. There should be an emphasis on collaborative research and innovation throughout the whole innovation process.
  • Grant funding for projects should remain the basis for research and innovation support in Europe.
  • There is a need to ensure an appropriate balance between large projects on the one hand and small and medium-sized projects on the other hand.
  • An important issue to be reflected in FP9 is the prevention of “brain drain”, not only from Europe but also within the EU.
  • The area of synergies in FP9 requires substantial improvements, in particular the simplification and harmonisation of rules, both at the national and European levels. For example, FP9 should allow the co-financing of projects (e.g. MSCA Cofund, ERA-NETs, etc.) from the European Structural and Investment Funds.
  • Instruments for increasing participation, like the specific Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation measures, should be further strengthened and financed in the future.

In April 2017, the Slovak Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport set up an informal Working Group (WG) whose responsibility is to draft recommendations on the design of FP9. Tatiana Kováčiková, ERA Chair Holder, has been invited to join the group on behalf of the University of Žilina.

At its last meeting on 9 May, the WG discussed several items linked to FP9, such as how to motivate Slovak institutions to enlarge their participation in Horizon Europe, what a mission-oriented policy approach means in practice and what should be done at national level to support excellent research.

On 7 June 2018, the Commission adopted its proposal for Horizon Europe. Currently, the Council and European Parliament are negotiating the programme. In parallel, the Member States have been asked to provide their comments and the Working Group is supporting the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic in this task. Horizon Europe will be officially launched on 1 January 2021.