In the EU’s next Framework Programme ‘Horizon 2020’ (2014-2020), the European Research Council (ERC) will play a pivotal role. For the implementation of the ERC funding schemes, a budget of EUR 13.2 billion (EUR 15 billion taking account of estimated inflation in 2014-2020) will be available. This would mean an increase of the ERC`s total budget for ‘Horizon 2020’ of about three quarters compared to the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The budget share of the ERC in ‘Horizon 2020’ (EUR 80 billion in total) will be approximately 17%.
The ERC with its funding programmes will be based in the first part of the coming Framework Programme (‘Excellent Science’), which includes ‘bottom-up’ funding instruments such as the ‘Marie Curie Actions’ and ‘Future and Emerging Technologies’ (FET). These actions have the aim of raising the level of excellence in European science and making Europe an attractive location for the world's best researchers in order to secure Europe's long-term competitiveness.
The basic principles of ERC funding - bottom-up funding of frontier research that can involve high scientific risks - will be maintained in ‘Horizon 2020’. The sole selection criterion for the award of grants is the scientific excellence of the submitted proposal and of the applicant.
The ERC supports basic or frontier research projects in Europe that are characterized by innovative and interdisciplinary approaches. Therefore individual researchers and their research teams will be funded following a “bottom-up”-approach, i.e. research projects from all scientific disciplines can be submitted to the ERC. Eligible applicants are researchers of any nationality and from all disciplines who want to carry out a research project in Europe. The ERC funding schemes from FP7 are expected to be continued in ‘Horizon 2020’ to a great extent and are addressed to:
- excellent scientists at the beginning of their research career who want to achieve the transition to professional and scientific independence;
- established outstanding scientists;
- researchers who develop new ways of working together in research projects which have the potential for ground-breaking research results; and
- ERC grant holders who want to check the market and/or innovation potential of research results from ERC-projects.
To achieve the objectives of the ‘Excellent Science’-part, the ERC can introduce new lines of funding to respond flexibly to new demands in the course of the ‘Horizon 2020’-Programme.
Management and structure
The scientific governing body of the ERC, the ERC Scientific Council, will be further strengthened in its independence in the new FP: According to the European Commission’s proposal, the European Commission shall only depart from the work programme established by the Scientific Council if this is not in accordance with the basic principles of ‘Horizon 2020’. In addition, a full-time ERC-president will take office for a term of four years (reappointment for one further term possible) from 2014, in order to chair the ERC Scientific Council and ensure the close cooperation with the ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA).