The Europe 2020 strategy towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth will make significant progress by building on the synergies between the cohesion policy – European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) – and the excellence objectives within Horizon 2020. The fostering of synergies between these two policy instruments aims to maximise the quantity and quality of investments, thus ensuring a higher impact of the funds. The ESIF will invest approximately €100 billion in innovation and research from the period 2014-2020.
The increase of the innovation and competitiveness-related budgets under EU cohesion policy over the past decade is of the utmost importance to ensure optimal synergies between the funds as a result of the increasing competitive pressure from global markets and to maximise the impact and efficiency of public funding. The European Parliament and the Council has made it clear that this approach is no longer a "nice to have" but a "need to implement".
In this context, Article 20 of the Horizon 2020 Regulation and Article 37 of the Horizon 2020 rules for participation encourage synergies between Horizon 2020 and other European Union funds, such as ESIF. To achieve this, it is crucial to align strategies and implementation modalities and complement existing and future roadmaps.
Synergies need preparation and efforts at all stages of programming and implementation and by all actors involved. To achieve synergies all levels and stages of the programming and implementation need to be addressed i.e.,
- Firstly, starting at the strategic level with awareness and understanding of the opportunities offered by different EU programmes, the development of smart specialisation strategies and EU level strategies and plans.
- Secondly, the development of work programmes and work plans in the framework of Horizon 2020, and the preparation of the Partnership Agreements and of ESIF programmes and frameworks (including the choice of priorities, specific objectives, types of actions and beneficiaries).
- Finally, the set-up of the implementation mechanisms, project selection processes, information services, guidance to potential beneficiaries, monitoring of the implementation, etc.
A high number of Regions and Member States have indicated aeronautics, aviation, aerospace and correlated areas among their Research & Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3) priorities, which creates an opportunity for fostering synergies with the EU’s largest ever aeronautics programme, the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking, under H2020, which is developing a set of bilateral cooperations on synergies with an increasing number of aeronautics-focused European Regions.
Synergies between ESIF and Clean Sky 2 could maximise the impact and specific added value of Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) investments, such as the capacity to effectively support aeronautics capacity building and the exploitation of research results in raising the overall socio-economic impact of the European aeronautics sector.
Thus, Clean Sky 2 encourages synergies with ESIF by allowing complementary activities to be proposed by applicants to the calls launched by Clean Sky 2. Synergies with the Clean Sky 2 programme and its technology roadmap can be achieved by broadening the scope, adding parallel activities or continuing CS2JU co-funded projects/activities through ESIF support. Clean Sky 2 also encourages the use of ESIF to build and enhance local capabilities and skills in fields related to the programme, in order to enhance the level of European competitiveness of stakeholders in this area.