This is a summary of the participation of Scientists Dating Forum (SciDF) and the Spanish Association for Science Advancement (AEAC) in the public consultation run by the European Commission about the next Research and Innovation Programme. It also includes the points of view of the Network of Foreign Scientists/Researcher and Innovators in Spain (FORSCIS), FuturoScopio, as well as Social DinApp (José Luis Rodriguez Serrano) and Marcel Puig. Here, we present the outcomes, opinions, and conclusions that we proposed, reinforcing common points.
The European Commission is building its next Research and Innovation Programme, called Horizon Europe (2021-2027) which will replace the current Horizon 2020, the largest public program for innovation in the world. After the first draft, a public consultation called Have your Say was opened to gather the opinion of the European citizens.
Have your Say is not the only initiative. The Commission offers several other instruments to foster the dialogue between citizens and different European scientific policies, such as the Futurium Platform. Whereas Have your Sayseems to be concentrated on better regulation and policies, Futurium Platform is generally focused on public discussion. There is also Lighten the Road website where suggestions to improve laws and reduce regulatory burden can be supplied for the revision of REFIT platform.
We believe that initiatives like Have your Say, which promote citizen participation in public policies, are relevant for the development of Europe. However, participating is not easy. The consultation process is not user-friendly, so citizens may give up. Also, people may find understanding the proceedings and the possible impacts difficult. The current rebuilding of the Research and Innovation Program every 5 to 7 years is another issue. Together, they cause unnecessary inefficiencies for the advancement of science and innovation.
Horizon Europe is built on three main pillars (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Strategic planning of the Horizon Europe, the next Research and Innovation Programme
from the European Commission 2021-2027
The consultation Have your Say contains several categories (protective, competitive, sustainable, fair and influential Europe) that cover these Horizon Europe pillars. Here we briefly present our conclusions:
- Protective Europe
Our position is to consider defence outside the Research and Innovation Programme. Defence is not a matter of science or innovation, but a political problem. Therefore, our opinion is to move it under another programme’s competence.
- Competitive Europe
We strongly believe that competitiveness is better defined by coopetition (cooperation between competing elements) rather than hyper-competitiveness. This change would highly benefit scientific progress. Therefore, it is necessary to pilot more innovative governance models for private innovation financing. To maintain a stable economic scenario and science investment, it would be also necessary to revise banking and financial sectors due to their proclivity for crisis generation.
- Sustainable Europe
In our view, sustainability and equality ought to be the leading forces, rather than economic growth. There is a need for a new growth model; first, by redefining “growth”, and second, relating it to the sustainability of natural ecosystems. In other words, we think that sustainable living is more important for Europe than sustainable growth because it implies progress over growth. Knowing where lobbies function may allow detecting suboptimal lock-ups in the innovation ecosystems developments.
- Fair Europe
A truly fair Europe should include social justice, equality, and the Future of Work. It is important to ensure a democratization of knowledge and opportunities to empower equally all European citizens. This cannot occur without a direct intervention into the governments and their policies for making them more democratic, more evidence-based and with a further holistic understanding of the impact of new technologies. A good starting point could be EU institutions providing easy and understandable information in a wide range of formats, rather than detailed technical knowledge.
A proactive society is necessary to achieve these goals. A smart society implies addressing all aspects of human development. For instance, aspects related to physical health are important, but relational aspects and psychic well-being (education, healthy family relationships, emotional and social intelligence) seem to be even more. And current technologies are useful to achieve these goals.
We agree that the change towards a circular economy and the development of clean production systems are essential to build a healthy environment. This environment implies equal opportunities in personal development for all citizens regardless of income or social class. It is an inclusive policy that will deepen the achievement of a society free of inequalities and exclusion.
Open and Excellent Science ought to favour transversal knowledge. We also consider that research impact indicators should be better developed to reflect more accurately the quality and impact of research. Also, open science should be incentivized and appropriately rewarded. More research should be envisaged on the impact of new and highly used technologies, especially where lobbies are involved.
- Influential Europe
Overall, international collaboration is key to tackle global problems. For example, addressing the migrant crisis avoiding extremists’ points of view.
It is the cooperation, participation and activism through international networks that the European Union can be more influential and can better address global challenges and Sustainable Developmental Goals. The “think globally, act locally” mindset should be present more than ever, as we do in our actions.
Finally, collective intelligence emergence and orchestration are socioecological milestones to reach and search for innovative solutions.
We would like to encourage you in all the projects that involve science, society and innovation. So please, feel free to join in the next Have your Say consultation!
For more analysis on Horizon Europe, please check its evaluation from the innovation ecosystems perspective.