Think Piece 2/2018


Monetary distribution effects of Horizon 2020 (up to mid-2018): Some remarkable developments …

Following-up on earlier analysis for Horizon 2020 (THINK Pieces 1/2016 and 2/2017), this paper looks at Horizon 2020 in terms of monetary redistribution between Member States for the period from 2014 up to mid-2018. The paper is structured in four parts: The first two are of a more technical nature and provide a description of the data used and a mainly descriptive overview on the key findings. The third part presents a closer look on how the overall picture has evolved over the last decade from the beginning of FP7 until mid-2018. Finally, part four presents an estimation of the participation patterns over the last year (from mid-2017 to mid-2018), which highlights some remarkable developments...



A closer look at the budget figures for Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe


Since the European commission presented its proposal for the next Framework Programme “Horizon Europe” for the period from 2021 to 2028, the proposed budget is a very controversial issue.


This paper is an attempt to put this debate on a more solid ground by trying to calculate truly comparable budget figures for the initial Horizon 2020 proposal from 2011, the actual Horizon 2020 regulation from 2013 and the new Horizon Europe proposal. The results show a somewhat different overall picture compared to the media coverage and public debate so far.

Some thoughts about keywords for FP9

During the year 2017, the debate about the design of the next Framework Programme has evolved quite rapidly, notably following the presentation of the Interim Evaluation Report for Horizon 2020. At this relatively early phase of the discussion the focus is not yet on detailed contents and concrete figures, but rather on the broad concepts and key objectives for the European Research and Innovation Programme after 2020.

Against this background it seems timely and useful to shed some light at three keywords dominating the current debate:


THINK Piece 3/2017



THINK Piece 4/2017



THINK Piece 5/2017



THINK Piece 2/2017

Monetary distribution effects of Horizon 2020 – An updated analysis (June 2017)

Following-up on a first analysis for Horizon 2020 (THINK Piece 1/2016), this paper looks at Horizon 2020 in terms of monetary redistribution between Member States for the period from 2014 up to May 2017. The paper is structured in four parts: Part one provides a description of the data used, whereas part two consists of a mainly descriptive overview on the key findings, for reasons of comparability presented in the same format as the previous analysis. The third part presents a closer look on how the “market shares” in FP funding have developed over the recent years for the six largest Member States. The final part presents just four simple conclusions from the analytical findings.

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THINK Piece 1/2017

Splendor and misery – Some reflections on the role of Public Consultations in European Research Policy

Public Consultations are an important tool to make the shaping of European policies more transparent and to foster public participation. This paper presents a closer look at the use of Public Consultations for European Research Policy. Despite all good intentions and a remarkable mobilization of respondents from all over Europe, a closer analysis also highlights some important shortfalls of the current practice. The final chapter presents some reflections on how to tackle some of the problems identified and to achieve an adequate interpretation of the responses received.

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THINK Piece 4/2016

Two-stage calls – A real improvement in times of low success rates?


The relatively low success rates for applicants in most parts of Horizon 2020 have been heavily and unanimously criticized by the stakeholders. In response, the European Commission introduced more generally a proposal evaluation in two stages, in order to ease the burden of unsuccessful applicants during the first stage. This approach received a very positive feedback from the scientific communities.


This paper presents a simple model to analyse the likely consequences of such a change and shows that, despite the general enthusiasm about the new approach, the net effects are rather nuanced. To make this approach a success, a very careful implementation will be required.

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Business as usual for FP9? –Suggestions for a fresh look in light of the British referendum


Several weeks after the British referendum, which highlighted the widespread unease among European citizens with the current way of EU policy making, there is only a very limited follow-up in the discussions about European Research Policy and in the first contributions for the design of the next Framework Programme. This paper aims at stimulating such a debate by presenting some very first new lines of thinking with the double objective of providing constructive replies to growing public concerns and new avenues for developing and improving the next Framework Programme. More ...

THINK Piece 2/2016


Inequality between Member States in FP7 and Horizon 2020 –Insights from calculating Gini Coefficients


Inequality is one of the most burning economic and social issues, and the inequality between Member States in terms of Horizon 2020 funding received is equally a question of constant political interest (see also THINK Piece 1/2016). This paper presents a new approach to use standard economic tools such as Lorenz curves and the Gini coefficients for a deeper analysis of the distributional effects of FP7 and Horizon 2020. After some technical explanations and a look at the data used, the first findings from this approach are presented. In conclusion, four statements are formulated to illustrate the analytical potential of this approach. More...

THINK Piece 1/2016

Monetary distribution effects of Horizon 2020 – A first analysis

Following-up on a similar analysis for FP7 (THINK Piece 1/2015), this paper presents a first look at Horizon 2020 in terms of monetary redistribution between Member States. The paper is structured in four parts: Part one provides a description of the data used, whereas part two consists of a mainly descriptive overview on the key findings, for reasons of comparability presented in the same format as the previous analysis of FP7. New reflections are presented in part three with a closer look at the situation of the six largest Member States, and part four is trying to identify some noteworthy features from a direct comparison between the FP7 and Horizon 2020 analysis.More...

THINK Piece 5/2015

Governance matters – Some thoughts about Volkswagen, the Star Alliance and Horizon 2020 

When describing and analysing Horizon 2020, little attention is paid to issues of governance. This is somewhat surprising, given both the importance of the programme and its unique character. This paper is intended to illustrate by some examples that Horizon 2020 governance issues might actually deserve greater attention, as they touch on essential aspects of the programme. More...

THINK Piece 4/2015


“Success Rates” – Some reflections on the current debate 

Success rates have emerged in the current political debate on Horizon 2020 as one of the most frequently used concepts. As, unfortunately, the term might not always be used with a proper understanding of its real meaning, this paper aims at shedding some light on the concept and implications of this indicator. More....

THINK Piece 3/2015

Some critical reflections on the role of Work Programmes in Horizon 2020   

This paper aims at analyzing the role of Work Programmes for the implementation of Horizon 2020. Given the long history and the paramount importance of this implementation tool it might seem rather strange to put their role into question. However, imagining a European Research Programme without annual Work Programmes illustrates that the merits of Work Programmes come at a surprisingly high price … and that at the end the European Research System might be better-off with no or substantially “lighter” Work Programmes. More...

THINK Piece 2/2015


Monetary (re-)distribution effects of FP7


The EU Framework Programme is (essentially) financed by contributions from the Member States, which in turn receive back the vast majority of the FP funds through the financial support to research institutions or firms. Although the net distribution effects of this process are of some political relevance, very little is known on these effects (at least in public…). This paper sheds some light on the issue – and presents some astonishing (ande even worrying) findings.

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This document is an updated version of THINK Piece 3/2014. Whereas the previous document covered FP7 funding up to 2013, this paper provides an analysis of the full FP7 funding period up to 2014. At the same time, data on the EU budget 2014 were used, mainly to allow the inclusion of Croatia in the analysis. 

THINK Piece 1/2015


Other horizons? Comparing the governance of Horizon 2020 and the Norwegian Pension Fund


Looking at research funding as a long-term investment opens the way for some interesting comparisons outside the beaten track: Analysing the governance of Horizon 2020 in contrast to the Norwegian Global Pension Fund might look at the outset like “comparing apples and pears” – but in terms of governance such a comparison could lead to some new insights. More...

THINK Piece 5/2014

On the current impact of politics on European Research Programmes


Since a couple of years, there is a not very visible, but probably rather important trend for an increased impact of politics on European Research Programmes. The following personal reflections raise some concerns about a possible “conservative bias” generated by this trend – and offer some very first ideas on how to address the issue. More ...


On the future impact on policy of European Research Programmes


Since a couple of years, major efforts are under way to increase the impact of the European Research Programmes on policy, notably in the context of the continuing economic crisis. This paper calls for some prudence in “selling” the policy importance of European Research, and invites for a wider view on the issue. More ...

THINK Piece 3/2014


A first look at monetary (re-)distribution effects of Framework Programme 7

Attention: An updated and more complete version of this document is available as THINK Piece 2/2015 (see above).


THINK Piece 2/2014

Research Portfolios - Strategic choice or "buying the index"?


Despite all remaining differences, the task of taking funding decisions on a portfolio of research projects is fundamentally similar and comparable to the task of investing in different assets on the financial markets.

This text points at some possibly challenging consequences from exploring this analogy. More ...

THINK Piece 1/2014

Projects - what else?


Since its very beginning some 20 years ago, “projects” are the main way to implement European Research Programmes. This seems such an obvious “fact of life”, that there is hardly any debate on the pros and cons of this approach – and on possible other options.

This text is intended to provide some first reflections – but unfortunately no definite replies yet. More ...