Horizon 2020

The current research program of the European Union is called Horizon 2020. The program is aimed at encouraging  innovation and ensuring the competitiveness of Europe. The program started in 2014 and runs until 2020. There is some € 80 billion available, to be divided amongst the applying research projects. The Dutch universities consider the European research programmes to be of great added European value and key to maintain a strong position within the global market.

Position VSNU interim evaluation Horizon 2020
The VSNU has formulated a position paper on behalf of all Dutch research universities that state their key position points on Horizon 2020:

Research and innovation are essential to maintain the European economic competitiveness in the world. To keep the level of excellence and impact of research in Europe, the budget for FP9 should be higher than Horizon 2020, both in absolute figures and relatively in the Multiannual Financial Framework.


Furthermore, the excellence principle is currently firmly embedded in the Horizon 2020 programme, with the ERC as its prime example. There is every reason to continue this in the current programme as well as in future programmes. Finally, we wish to highlight one concern for the coming years: the low success rates. the low success rates can lead to less interest from talented researchers for the programme and can discourage participation.

Looking forward to a new Framework Programme, we find these notions essential:

1.    The strong focus on excellence needs to be maintained, the ERC is o f crucial importance for this.
2.    Widening participation should start with capacity building, fully based on the use of the structural funds (ESIF). A restructuring of the Widespread instruments should further promote excellence by enforcing stronger links and cooperation between pockets of excellence all over Europe.
3.    Social Sciences and Humanities need to be integrated in the Programme and the funded projects.
4.    Finding ways to raise success rates is a key condition to keep the interest of excellent researchers and research groups in participating in the Programme.
5.    The budget for the new framework programme should increase, both as a percentage of the total EU budget and in absolute figures.

With these notions for FP9 it is of great importance that Horizon 2020 keeps its focus on the following objectives:

1.    Strengthening the strong scientific and economic competitiveness of Europe in the world. The competitive nature of Horizon 2020, with excellence and societal and economic impact as core criteria, is of crucial importance.
2.    Ensuring that all excellent research in Europe can take part in Horizon 2020 and in the new FP9.
3.    Increasing and securing the budget.
4.    Improving the success rate.
5.    Improving the user friendliness and reducing bureaucracy.

The VSNU also contributed to a collective position paper from all research organizations in the Netherlands. This paper can be found on the website of the Netherlands house for Education and Research, Neth-ER. This paper also emphasizes the importance of the increase of the research budget of the European Union.


In 2017 the European Commission carries out an interim evaluation of the programme. It will deliver several reports with analysis, lessons learnt and most importantly strategic conclusions on EU research and innovation funding and policy. These reports will be used to establish the successor of Horizon 2020, FP9.

Dutch participation in European research programmes
A status report conducted by Nikolas Floratos showed that 1,144 successful Dutch project applications had been submitted in the period until mid-June 2015. This put the Netherlands in sixth place. The Netherlands was also in sixth place in relation to the total scale of the allocated budget, with more than €520 million being granted to Dutch researchers. According to Floratus, the Netherlands can therefore be counted amongst Europe's elite, together with countries such as Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Spain, countries much bigger than the Netherlands in terms of both population and GDP. With €23.8 million in funding, Delft University of Technology occupied 21st place in the top 50 most successful research institutions, followed by Eindhoven University of Technology (€19 million), TNO (€19 million), VU-VUMC (€17.6 million) and the University of Amsterdam (€17.1 million).