On 20 November 2013 the Parliament in plenary debated on the Regulation setting up Horizon 2020, on the basis of the “Establishment of Horizon 2020 - The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)” report drafted by MEP Teresa Riera (S&D, Spain), as well as its accompanying rules for participation and the future legislation governing the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
In general terms, MEPs welcomed the agreement, with one common regret: the insufficient budget allocated (amongst others, Christian Ehler (EPP, DE), Maria Da Graça Carvalho (EPP, PT), Philippe Lamberts (Green/EFA, BE), António Fernando Correia de Campos (SD, PT)). Marie Geoghegan-Quinnn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, and a few MEPs, such as Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE), considered the amount of money allocated as satisfying taking into account that the MFF negotiations had been extremely difficult and that Horizon 2020 is the only area in the MFF where there has been an increase.
MEPs specially applauded the simplificationin terms of administrative burden, processes speed up and financial error rate reduction; the free and open access of publications produced as a resulting of Horizon 2020 financing; the strengthened excellence of science and research and the better distribution of resources for innovation and research, avoiding (geographic) concentration.
MEP Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL, PT), rapporteur of one of the reports in the Horizon 2020 package, proposed that health and active ageing should be the first priorities for innovation. Marita Ulvskog (SD, SE) and Britta Thomsen (SD, DK) expressed a similar idea. Vicky Ford (ECR, UK) highlighted the importance of preventing degenerative diseases.
The issue of stem cell research was raised by many MEPs. Franz Obermayr (NI, AT), Konrad Szymanski (ECR, PO), Ewald Satdler and Mirosław Piotrowki (ECR, PO) expressed their support to the “One of Us” European Citizen Initiative (ECI) (which requests the EU to end the financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health). Piotr Borys (EPP, PO), on behalf of the Legal committee, stated that Horizon 2020 must not fund research on human embryos, in the light of the 2011 decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
Commissioner Quinn explained that the Commission proposed to follow the same approach that in FP7 and that it tabled a statement upon adoption of the legislative framework whereby it committed not to fund any research which would lead to the destruction of human embryos. She reminded that under the FP7 the approach has been to ensure a triple lock system: that national legislation is respected; all projects must be scientifically validated by peer review and must undergo rigorous ethical review; EU funds might not be used in research that destroys embryos including for the procurement of stem cells.