The European Research Fund for Coal and Steel
The European Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) was established in 2003 and is administered by the Commission. Annually, about SEK 400 million is allocated for steel research at companies, institutes and universities in Sweden.
Normally, the RFCS grant comprises 60 per cent of a project’s total budget. Other cash funding is the responsibility of the participants, so-called partners, by way of e.g. the membership programmes of institutes, corporate contributions and state sources of research funding. Most frequently, there is participation by partners from several European nations. A condition for granting the application is a strong industrial interest.
The fund’s capital comprises outstanding funds of about 2 billion Euros in the former ECSC fund (European Coal and Steel Community, 1952–2002) that was based on annual payments from the European steel industry. It is worth pointing out, therefore, that the RFCS fund does not comprise money from taxation unlike the EU’s Framework Programme.
Sweden’s steel industry also participates to a degree in projects financed within the EU’s Framework Programme.
Project applications are valued by independent evaluators from the member countries. These may represent steel companies, institutes or universities. An advisory group for steel, Steel Advisory Group (SAG), comprising representatives from member countries, assists the Commission with selection, prioritisation of research areas and regulations etc. Sweden is represented by Rachel Pettersson, Jernkontoret. Current projects are reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis through nine technical committees, Technical Groups Steel (TGS). Sweden has representatives on seven of these.
Successful participation since 1995
Since Sweden became a member of the EU, project applications with Swedish participation have been very successful.
During the period 1995–2002 Swedish participants obtained about SEK 240 million in grants from the ECSC.
During the period 2003–2018, Swedish participants within 224 projects were granted a total of about SEK 600 million from the RFCS.
The European research program Horizon 2020 runs from 2014 to 2020 with a total budget of 80 billion Euros. The program has three main priorities:
- Excellent Science
- Industrial Leadership
- Societal Challenges
Planning of the next framework program is ongoing. The program has been named Horizon Europe and will be running during the period 2021–2028.