ITRE Committee is looking after EFSI Investment Plan
The Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee in the European Parliament was given exclusive competences over 3 articles of the European Fund for Strategic Investments Regulation (EFSI), the Investment Plan aiming to revive investment in strategic projects around Europe to ensure that money reaches the real economy Article 5, which deals with the intention of the EFSI, Articles 18 & 19 which deal with the financing of the EFSI from Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
In the preliminary meeting on the topic, the Committee members had voiced their concerns and displeasure with the manner of financing the EFSI. Their concern is that funding for basic research will not be funded by the EFSI and therefore the money that researchers normally receive from Horizon 2020 will no longer be available potentially crippling innovation in Europe.
On 9 March 2015, the ITRE Committee had an extraordinary meeting in Strasbourg to discuss this Regulation, where the Rapporteur, Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D, Belgium) presented her draft report of the Regulation. Mrs Van Brempt, along with all the ITRE Committee members, is opposed to the proposed financing strategy for the EFSI because of the cuts to Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). She noted that projects under Horizon 2020 serve similar goals to the EFSI but these projects will not be eligible for funding under EFSI and research will therefore be lost.
The rapporteur suggested avoiding cuts to Horizon 2020 and CEF and finance the EFSI by deciding on gradual budgetary commitments to the EFSI in the frame of the annual budgetary procedure. Furthermore, by deciding on the funding itself during the annual budgetary procedure, they would safeguard Horizon 2020 and CEF and instead would make use of all available mechanisms and flexibility to find the funds.
This Regulation is an extremely important job and growth package for the Commission and there will be strong discussions needed to protect Horizon 2020. The concern is that, if the cuts remain as they are, basic research will suffer across the healthcare sector.