The current eighth European Union Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (“RTD”) Framework Programme, entitled Horizon 2020, will expire on 31 December 2020.

On 12 October 2016, the Director General for Research and Innovation announced that the European Commission is currently starting to work on and plan for the ninth RTD Framework Programme (“FP9”) which will cover the period of 2021-2027.

Background

Article 182 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“EU”) provides that the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament shall, upon a proposal from the European Commission, adopt a multiannual Framework Programme to cover all activities of the EU in the area of Research, Technological Development and Demonstration. Since 2007, each RTD Framework Programme has covered a period of seven years. The purpose is that they last the full period of the multiannual Financial Framework (“MFF”) of the EU.

The legislative process related to the FP9 is expected to be formally launched by the European Commission by means of a formal proposal in the first quarter of 2018. The Council and the European Parliament (EP) will then, on the basis of the European Commission proposal, reach agreement on FP9, following normal legislative procedures.

The Bohemia Study foresight exercise

As preparation for the FP9, the European Commission intends to carry out a midterm review of Horizon 2020 through the launch of a public consultation inviting researchers and industry to share their experience of Horizon 2020.

The European Commission’s preparatory steps for FP9 also include the establishment of a High Level group to work on the “Future Orientations” of the Framework Programme, the publication of foresight studies and the development of new models of how research and development contribute to the competitiveness of EU Member States’ economies.

In parallel, the European Commission has launched a long-term scenario planning exercise, called the Bohemia Study, to be completed by mid-2017. The European Commission has requested a group of experts to conduct a review and related audit of existing foresight studies by the OECD and the World Bank among others.

Through its research and innovation investments the EU intends, by 2030, to become a key global driver of change in climate and energy policy, urbanization, digital healthcare and disease prevention, security and resilience. The objective of the Bohemia Study is to examine the possibilities for the next research programme FP9 to address these global societal problems through coordinated EU policies and the strategic implementation of digital services.

FP9 priorities under development

The new FP9 programme is expected to tackle themes of research predominantly related to:

  • defence against cyber-attacks;
  • the digitalisation of healthcare;
  • connected cars technologies;
  • technologies for energy transport and energy storage.

The European Commission will also consider the option of creating a European Innovation Council. The purpose would be to issue grants to risky research and development projects.