The European Commission has announced a plan to team up with the private sector and national governments to invest 22 billion euros in research over the next seven years.

The funding will be part of the new EU research and innovation programme "Horizon 2020," which is due to be voted on in the European Parliament in September.

EU horizon-2020Lib Dem MEP and European Employment spokesperson Phil Bennion commented:

"Investing in research and innovation is absolutely vital if we are to succeed in creating sustainable jobs and a stable economic recovery, in Europe, in Britain and in particular here in the West Midlands.

"Governments and the EU also need to take action to promote the transition to a greener, more competitive economy.

"Horizon 2020 will be a useful way of reinforcing the most important research efforts and bridging the gap where economies of scale are difficult or to promote best practice.

"EU research programs in the previous budget programme periods have been very effective. Taking them forward to 2020 will help the UK to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge research, bringing together companies, universities and innovative small businesses to tackle the key challenges we face in our economy and society.

"Planned projects include research into new antibiotics for drug-resistant bacteria, the promotion of healthy, active ageing and new techniques to counter arthritis, and the development of cleaner, quieter aircraft and alternatives to fossil fuels.

"This funding will not only give a vital boost to innovation and jobs, it will lay the foundations for future growth and stable jobs.

"The Green economy is not just a pipe dream. Our competitors in China and America are out there developing new low energy technologies which will become more important as climate change gathers pace and decarbonisation becomes an ever more urgent task.

"We can't afford not to keep pace - in some areas we are global leaders but Britain cannot be complacent, in others we already have catching up to do.

"Birmingham and Warwick Universities have received millions of pounds from the EU to support cutting edge research in technology and healthcare - the Horizon 2020 programme will help to ensure this can continue.

"Sharing best practice in a structured way across European nations is one of the EU's most useful functions, with fantastic value for money, but to make it happen we need to take clear decisions and set long term budget priorities.

"The Lib Dems support cutting the EU budget for administration but increasing it for research and development."

ENDS

Notes:

The European Parliament and Council reached an agreement on the next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, in July. Over the past five years, the current EU framework programme (FP7) has brought over ยฃ3 billion in science funding to the UK, supporting cutting-edge research in areas such as stem-cell therapy, clean energy and nano-technology.

Horizon 2020 aims to leverage additional money from industry and EU Member States through public-private partnerships. The goal of the partnerships is to provide solutions to major challenges such as reducing carbon emissions or providing the next generation of antibiotics. They will also help increase the competitiveness of EU industry, including SMEs, and create new jobs in fast growing and emerging sectors.