Sufficient, Sustainable and Simple EU Funding for Universities

  • Stronger EU investment

  • Sustainable funding conditions

  • Impactful simplification

Sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness

The significant underfunding of Horizon 2020 has led to a critically low success rate and heavily weighs on the overall efficiency of the funding landscape.

Participation remains expensive for universities, challenging their long-term financial sustainability. In particular, coverage of indirect costs tends to be insufficient. Horizon 2020, and possibly Horizon Europe in the future, cover indirect costs via a flat-rate of 25% of direct costs, offering limited support to institutions. This can be a barrier to participation, especially for less funded institutions in Europe. In this context, EUA calls on member states to provide sufficient and sustainable national public funding for education, research and innovation, which is paramount to support the participation of universities in Horizon Europe and enable them to co-fund the projects.

The overall efficiency of the EU funding programmes is also challenged by the excessive costs of administrative processes, both on the funder and the beneficiary sides, as well as gaps or inconsistencies that prevent effective synergies between funding schemes. EUA therefore calls for progress towards the possibility of combining funding schemes (among EU programmes or with national or other types of funding).

Stepping up EU-level investment in research, education and innovation

National public authorities, and in particular ministries of finance must support higher investment in research, education and innovation at the EU level. In the context of the negotiations on the next multiannual financial framework, they must be convinced of the added value of higher investment in this sector at both the national and EU level.

EUA has developed material summarising the arguments in favour of EU-level investment in research and innovation and in higher education. The “Reasons to step up EU-level investment in Research & Innovation” and "Reasons to step up EU-level investment in Higher Education exchange and cooperation" are available as two-pagers and as individual postcards that can be used on social media. The material is available to national rectors’ conferences in a format can be adapted to their national context.

Achieving impactful simplification

"Simplification” activities have a direct impact on universities, as the overarching objective is to achieve better rules for participation in the EU funding programmes.

EUA understands simplification as the achievement of a coherent set of rules, mindful of the diversity of actions and beneficiaries accommodated in a programme, and that ensures both high-quality processes and an effective use of resources.

EUA argues for the wider acceptance of nationally-recognised institutional management and accounting practices of beneficiaries as the most significant way to enhance efficiency and participation in the programme.

EUA collaborates with its members to work towards simplification that has a positive impact on universities. A dedicated group provides expertise from university administrators while all universities are invited to share their experience in EUA consultations and surveys.

The report “Accepting university accounting practices under Horizon Europe: a compendium of national and institutional cases” collects practical information based on the experiences shared by university practitioners from 12 European countries. The report explores possibilities for a better alignment of practices between the EU and the national level. In order to achieve this, the data gathered in the compendium have been summarised in concrete strategic and practical recommendations addressed to EU policy makers.

EUA feeds this input to the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors in the framework of bilateral exchanges and expert groups, as well as to the European Parliament and the EU Council ahead of the adoption of the proposal establishing Horizon Europe.

  • European Parliament to vote on Horizon Europe Winter 2018-19
  • European elections23-26 May 2019
  • New European Commission and Parliament in placeAutumn 2019
  • Planned launch of Horizon Europe and Erasmus programmesJanuary 2021

Key actions

First semester 2018:

  • EUA issues its analysis of the European Commission’s proposal for Horizon Europe, reacts and proposes amendments to the reports of the members of the European Parliament responsible for the Horizon Europe proposal.
  • EUA campaigns with other university networks for a doubling of the budget for the next EU framework programme.


Winter 2017-18:

  • EUA Simplification group launch, composed of university practitioners with background in strategic development and governance, as well as participation in EU funding programmes. The group was developed as a follow-up to an initial meeting focused on the acceptance of institutional accounting practices in EU research funding with university managers, private funders, the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors. The group generates high-quality input that informs EUA’s position and proposals on the simplification of EU funding rules.
  • EUA survey “New forms of funding targeting simplification of the Framework Programme”, aiming to collect evidence on ways to further simplify and enhance the effectiveness of the EU Framework Programme.
  • EUA policy event “Excellence in research, innovation and education: The universities’ recommendations for an efficient and ambitious FP9” hosted by MEP Christian Ehler at the European Parliament.


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