Labour MEP for the South West, Clare Moody, Labour spokesperson on EU Budget matters, today met with two Vice-Chancellors representing Universities UK over fears about cuts to the Horizon 2020 programme, a major source of funding to UK universities and research centres.
Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, and Colin Riordan, the Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, as representatives of Universities UK and representatives from other leading UK universities met the MEP at the European Parliament in Brussels, to discuss plans by the European Commission to redirect Horizon 2020 funding to the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
Speaking after the meeting, Clare said:
"I met with the Vice Chancellors to reaffirm our commitment as Labour MEPs to protect Horizon 2020 funding from proposed cuts.
"The Horizon 2020 programme helps to fund pure research though grants, which feeds the innovation chain. The programme has a track-record of success and is one of the areas through which the UK gains the most from being part of the EU.
"Cuts to Horizon 2020 funding could seriously hurt British universities and put at risk their status as world-leading research institutions, which would be a considerable blow to universities such as Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter, and Plymouth, where world-leading research plays a pivotal role in the local, regional, national and European economies.
"I welcome the EFSI proposal, which promotes investment to create jobs and growth across the EU but I do not believe funding it by cutting grants in Horizon 2020 is appropriate. It sends completely the wrong message - we need to be investing more not less in the future. This is an area of EU funding that really works.
"As a principle, appropriations for the guarantee fund should under no circumstances be taken from the most effective and valuable areas of the EU budget such as Horizon 2020. The move sets a worrying precedent of cutting successful budget lines and leaving less productive ones untouched.
"Together with my Labour colleagues, I want to protect Horizon 2020 from these proposed cuts and to protect the funding and reputations of our brilliant universities."