Katainen calls for EU to increase research spending
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen © European People's Party

Katainen calls for EU to increase research spending

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen has said he wants the EU to increase spending on research at the expense of farming and regional authorities.

“I think it would be reasonable for the EU to invest in science more. This is my own personal opinion. I would put more emphasis here in the next [multiannual] budget,” Katainen said.

At the Science|Business conference ‘Shaping the next Framework Programme’ yesterday (27 June), Katainen said that not just long-term goals like reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, but also EU leadership in industries of the future, including renewables was at risk.

Katainen declined to put a figure on how much more money should go to Framework Programme 9 (FP9), saying: “I don’t want to provoke [anyone] at this stage. Let’s talk about the structure [of the next budget] first and then the amount of money.”

However, Katainen did endorse the €120bn figure commonly endorsed by members of the European Parliament, as a “good target”.

It is thought that the departure of the UK, a net contributor to the EU budget, could mean it will be difficult to maintain or improve the level of research funding.

With the UK averaging an annual payment of €7.6bn over the past five years, “You don’t have to be a genius to know the next budget is going to go down,” Katainen said.

Katainen does not expect other contributors, such as Germany, France and the Netherlands, to make up the UK’s share. Sourcing the Brexit-related budget decline will require “creativity”, he said.

Katainen predicted the EU would take on a stronger common purpose after the departure of the UK, most notably in defence. “The EU will be different in three to five years’ time. EU 27 will be different from EU 28,” he said.