Conclusions from an EUA report on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) have been included in a European Parliament opinion on the loan scheme. EUA has consistently pointed out that money for Horizon 2020 should not be diverted to fund EFSI and that the scheme does not benefit universities.
EFSI is currently undergoing a series of evaluations, accompanying the European Commission’s proposal to extend it as EFSI 2.0 until the end of 2020. EUA is closely monitoring the outcomes of such reviews and recently published “EFSI and Horizon 2020: Efficiency and Opportunity Cost” to show the effects of the decision to divert funds from Horizon 2020 to EFSI.
Conclusions from EUA’s report are reflected in a draft opinion on EFSI implementation by the Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee (CULT), which builds on a series of discussions with key cultural and educational stakeholders. EUA’s Director for Governance, Funding and Public Policy Development, Thomas Estermann, presented EUA’s views on the topic at a meeting with European Parliament Member Jill Evans in early February.
The Association is pleased to see its input amply reflected in the CULT report and welcomes its conclusions regarding the need to restore the funding to Horizon 2020. The CULT report also reiterates other key arguments put forward by EUA, stating that “EFSI is largely unsuitable for the sector” and “EFSI support for research and innovation has not adequately benefited public universities” given that “schools and universities in most member states are legally prohibited from borrowing money.”
The CULT report feeds into the EFSI evaluation process, which includes the European Parliament own-initiative report on the implementation of the scheme, drawn up jointly by the Budgets and Economic and Monetary Affairs Committees. The own-initiative report notably highlights the need to put forward proposals to finance EFSI from other sources than the EU budget, in order to avoid further pressure on other funding programmes such as Horizon 2020.
The current scheme was originally set up for three years, until mid-2018. Its likely extension to 2020 must be seen in the wider context of the mid-term review of the EU’s long-term financial planning. EUA is contributing to the ongoing debate through meetings with other Parliament Committees and various stakeholders. EUA has been campaigning against financial transfers from Horizon 2020 to fund EFSI operations as its terms are unfavourable to Europe’s universities.