In a farewell article in Research Europe, former EuroScience Secretary General Peter Tindemans, argues that it is good news that the European Parliament and European Council have reached a partial agreement on the contours of Horizon Europe, the next EU R&D programme. This will shield the programme from the uncertainties that a new Parliament and European Commission are bound to throw up. The agreement also buys a few months of relative quiet that should be used to reflect on some themes that are too often ignored.
European debates on science, technology and innovation are hedged in by self-imposed limitations. Abandoning or redefining programmes is notoriously difficult, for example, as the diffuse borders between Horizon Europe’s missions, the Joint European Disruptive Initiative, the European Institute for Innovation and Technology and the Joint Technology Initiatives show. But there are deeper issues at stake. What, for example, should a truly European-level research and innovation policy seek to achieve? “European added value” is not a good enough answer. Clearer answers would come from asking what can only or best be done at the level of the EU.