Documents considered by the Committee on 25 April 2018 Contents

9Review of Article 185 initiatives

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny

Document details

(a) Commission Staff Working Document: Long-term sustainability of Research lnfrastructures; (b) Commission Staff Working Document: Executive summary of Evaluation of the participation of the EU in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States based on Article 185 of the TFEU; (c) Commission Staff Working Document: Evaluation of the Participation of the EU in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States based on Article 185 of the TFEU

Legal base

Department

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Document Numbers

(a) (39091), 12619/17, SWD (2017) 323 final; (b) (39092), 12988/17, SWD (2017) 340 final; (c) (39093), 12990/17, SWD (2017) 341 final

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

9.1The European Commission has produced an evaluation133 of the EU’s participation in Article 185 initiatives—Public-Public Partnerships through which the EU can contribute financially to multiannual research programmes proposed by EU Member States or countries associated to the Framework Programme. This evaluation is intended to feed in to the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020, which the Committee has scrutinised separately.134

9.2Although the evaluation finds that Article 185 initiatives are coherent with the Horizon 2020 objectives and actions, and their governance structures efficient, concerns are expressed about their sustainability: the initiatives are time-limited and intend to make their activities more self-sustaining. In consequence, most of the initiatives evaluated identify possible alternatives to Article 185 to provide greater sustainability. A desire to simplify the complex R&I landscape at national and EU level is also expressed, and noted in the separate evaluation of Horizon 2020.

9.3In the Government’s Explanatory Memorandum,135 the then Minister of State for Universities and Science at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Jo Johnson) stated that the UK Government welcomed “the finding on the positive contribution of Article 185 initiatives to the wider EU policy objective of international cooperation”.

9.4As no assessment of the Brexit implications for future UK participation in Article 185 initiatives specifically was provided, further clarification has been sought from department officials. They reiterated the Government’s desire to explore all possible options with the EU to build an ambitious science and innovation agreement, and that this included future participation in Article 185 projects. The Department also clarified that, subject to the withdrawal agreement, the UK would continue to benefit from EU research funding, including funding for Article 185 projects, until the end of the current budget plan in 2020, and for as long afterwards as individual projects continue.

9.5The Government’s Explanatory Memorandum concerning this evaluation also considered a second document regarding research infrastructures (RI) in the EU, which recommended that a number of action points be included within a plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of these infrastructures.136 The Government also supported the findings of this report.

9.6We take note of the Commission’s evaluation report of the Article 185 multiannual research programme initiatives, and the Government’s support for these findings.

9.7Regarding the implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union for future participation in these initiatives, we note that, although countries associated to Horizon 2020 can take part in Article 185 initiatives, provisions do not exist in EU law that specifically permit the participation of third countries; however, the EU has introduced measures to allow third country participation in some cases, subject to the conclusion of international agreements with the relevant countries and a Council Decisions which permits third country participation in a specific project and applies derogations to the rules of third country participation. For example, Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon will participate in the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) initiative.

9.8Although Article 185 initiatives are clearly of value, we note that they represent one of many EU research funding instruments, and account for only €1.7bn of €80bn of total Horizon 2020 funding during the current period, that only five such projects currently exist, and that a number of these have a highly regional focus (e.g. the initiatives on the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Area). The key aspect of the UK’s future relationship with the EU in scientific research will clearly be its relationship with future Framework Programmes.

9.9We also note the Government’s support for the Commission’s recommendations regarding a future plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of research infrastructures.

9.10We now clear these documents from scrutiny.

Full details of the documents

(a) Commission Staff Working Document: Long-term sustainability of Research Infrastructures: (39091), 12619/17, SWD (2017) 323 final; (b) Commission Staff Working Document: Executive summary of Evaluation of the participation of the EU in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States based on Article 185 of the TFEU: (39092), 12988/17, SWD (2017) 340 final; (c) Commission Staff Working Document: Evaluation of the Participation of the EU in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States based on Article 185 of the TFEU: (39093), 12990/17, SWD (2017) 341 final.

Background

9.11Article 185 initiatives are multi-annual R&I funding programmes funded jointly by EU Member States, associated states, third countries and the EU’s framework programmes for funding of R&I under the Horizon 2020 regulation. They enable the EU to contribute financially to multiannual research programmes proposed by EU Member States or countries associated to the Framework Programme. They are part of a larger family of so-called Public-Public Partnerships (P2Ps).137

9.12The criteria applicable to Article 185 projects are set out in Article 26 of the Horizon 2020 regulation.138 It states that EU participation in such projects should be “justified by the scope of the objectives pursued and the scale of the resources required” and only “proposed in cases where there is a need for a dedicated implementation structure and where there is a high level of commitment of the participating countries to integration at scientific, management and financial levels”. Article 26 also details five criteria for the identification of such initiatives, which include: a clear definition and relevance to Horizon 2020 and EU policy objectives; indicative financial commitments of the participating countries; added value at Union level; critical mass; and the appropriateness of Article 185 TFEU for achieving the objectives.

9.13At present, there are five Article 185 initiatives, of which the UK participates in four:

9.14By the end of Horizon 2020, public funding for Article 185 initiatives will have amounted to almost €4 billion (€2.2 billion from Member States and €1.7 billion from the Union).

9.15The Government has been clear that it wants to remain involved in the successor programme to Horizon 2020 from 2021 onwards. In its September 2017 “future partnership paper” on cooperation with the EU on science and research,139 the Department for Exiting the EU said it would seek to “agree a far-reaching science and innovation agreement with the EU” after Brexit. The paper notes that this would be in the interest of both sides, especially in the field of medicine and health, but the Government wants to discuss continued UK involvement across the spectrum of EU research policy (i.e. the Framework Programme, as well as the EU’s separate research programmes for the defence, space and nuclear industries).

9.16In the Committee’s recently published report on Horizon 2020, we concluded that the UK’s continued involvement in the successor to Horizon 2020 should not be taken as a given, and asked the Government to confirm that it would seek for the UK to become “associated” with the next Framework Programme, or, if not, which other “options for participating” the Government was exploring.

The reports

(i) Evaluation of EU participation in Article 185 initiatives

9.17The Article 185 evaluation140 reports on the performance of Article 185 initiatives to date, identifying their strengths and challenges as part of the overall interim evaluation of Horizon 2020, which the Committee has scrutinised separately.141

9.18In the Commission’s report, it identified the following strengths of Article 185 initiatives:

9.19The report also identifies some challenges with the use of Article 185 initiatives:

9.20In terms of next steps, the Commission proposes to develop a plan to address the challenges identified through the evaluation of Article 185 initiatives. The evaluation has contributed to the overall interim evaluation of Horizon 2020, which will help to focus the European Commission’s thinking about the final years of the programme.

(ii) Research infrastructures

9.21The Commission has published a staff working document142 on the long-term sustainability of research infrastructures (RI)—facilities, resources and services used by research communities to enable discovery, develop technology, and foster innovation in their fields. They include major scientific equipment, knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives or scientific data, e-infrastructures such as data, computing systems and communication networks, and any other infrastructure of a unique nature essential to research and innovation. The Government explains that such infrastructures may be ‘single-sited’, ‘virtual’ or ‘distributed’. The Government’s Explanatory Memorandum, summarised below, states that the UK has many research infrastructures that it leads, runs or is involved in, and that most of these are overseen by the UK Research Councils.

9.22The sustainability of research infrastructures was identified as a key priority at the EU Informal Competitiveness Council in July 2014, at which it was recognised that RI are critical for the EU to remain competitive in the global knowledge-based economy, but that putting in place and maintaining a European landscape of excellent RI has significant budgetary implications at national and European level, raising questions about their long-term sustainability.

9.23Following several rounds of consultation, into which the UK Research Councils provided input, the Commission has produced a report which recommends that a plan be developed to ensure the long-term sustainability of research infrastructures which should include the following action points:

9.24The Commission states that the consultation will lead to an action plan that will contribute to planning discussions on research funding programmes and European Structural and Investment Funds.

The Government’s view

9.25On 24 October 2017 the then Minister of State for Universities and Science at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Jo Johnson) submitted an Explanatory Memorandum to Parliament143 in which he stated that the UK Government noted the findings of the Article 185 evaluation and welcomed “the finding on the positive contribution of Article 185 initiatives to the wider EU policy objective of international cooperation”.

9.26As the Government’s Explanatory Memorandum did not provide any information about the implications of Brexit for UK involvement in these initiatives, further clarification was sought from officials at BEIS. In response, they stated that:

9.27Contrary to this last point, it appears that there is not a formal established mechanism for third countries that are not associated to the Framework Programme to participate in Article 185 initiatives. A European Parliament briefing on the PRIMA initiative144 states that Article 185 TFEU does not include a reference to the participation of third countries, and that specific measures are therefore needed to enable third country participation in the initiative, which would involve:

9.28Regarding the document on the long-term sustainability of research infrastructures, the Minister states that it recognises the work of the Commission, ESFRI and the scientific community in producing a clear working document that outlines the key issues facing the long-term sustainability of research infrastructures. The Minister states that the Government will work with partners to produce an action plan that will address these issues.

Previous Committee Reports

Sixteenth Report HC 301–xvi (2017–19) chapter 10 (28 February 2018).


133 Commission Staff Working Document: Evaluation of the Participation of the EU in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States based on Article 185 of the TFEU SWD (2017) 341 final.

134 Sixteenth Report HC 301–xvi (2017–19) chapter 10 (28 February 2018).

135 Explanatory Memorandum from the Minister, BEIS, to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee (23 October 2017).

136 Commission Staff Working Document: Long-term sustainability of Research lnfrastructures SWD (2017) 323 final.

138 Article 26 of Regulation 1291/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing Horizon 2020—the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014–2020).

140 Commission Staff Working Document: Evaluation of the Participation of the EU in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States based on Article 185 of the TFEU SWD (2017) 341 final.

141 Sixteenth Report HC 301–xvi (2017–19) chapter 10 (28 February 2018).

142 Commission Staff Working Document: Long-term sustainability of Research Infrastructures SWD (2017) 323 final.

143 Explanatory Memorandum from the Minister, BEIS, to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee (23 October 2017).

144 European Parliament, Briefing: Legislation in progress: Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) pp3–4.




Published: 1 May 2018