The European Commission planned to spend two or three billion EUR on flagship research projects, while it eventually decided to abandon its plans.
33 entries had been submitted to the contest, whereas 6 of them were selected as its finalists. A week prior to an official meeting and the ceremonial announcement of winners, the commission cancelled it all, referring to extensive discussions related to the final shape of Horizon Europe programme. Then, research teams were told to abandon any mentions of "flagship projects" and begin to call them "research initiatives on a large scale" instead.The projects mentioned concerned the digitalisation of European cultural heritage, artificial intelligence focused on working with humans, cell-mapping, cell and gene therapy, the conversion of wind and solar power into fuels, as well as harnessing solar energy and atmospheric gases to the production of fuels and chemicals.
Hand-Dieter Volk, an immunologist at the university clinic in Charité, underlines that the systemic change introduced to the contest in the middle of it is unsettling. He is the coordinator of a project named Restore whose objective consists in introducing faster and cheaper gene and cell therapies to European clinics.
Presently, it is now known whether or how any of these projects might be executed. Christian Ehler, the chief negotiator of the European Parliament in Brussels appointed to deal with Horizon Europe, states that he intends to convince the Commission to include the research in Horizon Europe.
The Parliament is very concerned over the future of the pre-selected concepts. Ehler explains that these initiatives are very promising and in need of being provided with a long-term and extensive framework within Horizon Europe.