The European Commission (EC) states that it guarantees that the research and innovation programs it finances are subject to “rigid rules”, “fully” respecting the values of the European Union (EU), and that Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) follow these principles.
“We are implementing strict EU rules, in full compliance with EU values. We are also taking financing decisions, consulting with various stakeholders, always placing the health and environmental needs of citizens at the top of the priority, ”the official EC source told Lusa.
This statement follows after two non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Global Health Advocates and Corporate Europe Observatory, criticize PPPs in the European Union's research area, based on reports that point to the benefit of private individuals in the public interest.
"All constructive criticism is welcome and will be taken into account in the evaluations and proposals of the next generation of PPP", Brussels said.
Two non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Global Health Advocates and Corporate Europe Observatory, criticize PPPs in the EU's research field, based on reports that point to the benefit of private individuals in the public interest.
According to these entities, there is an institutional environment that ensures “privileges and advantages” for the private sector, and “duties and obligations” for the public sector.
Brussels stresses that it “notes the reports” published by the CEO and the GHA, stressing that the EU is committed to achieving “smart, sustainable and inclusive” growth and that it is in this context that it considers research and innovation with community funds in the future.
NGOs note that, for the past 15 years, health and environment industry lobby groups “controlled, dominated and benefited from € 3,7 billion of EU research funds for medicines and the climate through PPP, at the expense of the public interest ”.
In the document of the two NGOs, “In the name of Innovation”, to which Lusa had access, which joins the reports “More private than public: how large pharmaceutical companies dominate the Medical Innovation Initiative”, and “Investiga e Destrói, factories in the bioeconomic industry threaten the climate and biodiversity ”, the entities point out that there are“ worrying implications for the defense of the public interest ”in the management of European PPPs, financed by taxpayers' money.
This, from the “neglect of pandemic preparedness, to feeding deforestation and climate change”, they stress, stressing that large European companies intend to maintain this situation in the next EU budget (under 'Horizon Europe 2021-2027).
"Our findings show that these PPP structures allow participating industries to control the use of billions of euros of public research funds, with no clear and proven return for EU citizens," point out the NGOs.
According to the organizations, the very design of these PPPs, “even more than the abuses that have been documented”, means that, in the health and bioeconomy sector, these partnerships “do not serve the public interest, but simply the short-term interest of industrialists ”.
GHA and the CEO emphasize that, “more than just capturing grants,” European PPPs (two of seven in total have been addressed) “not only consume valuable resources in terms of public research funding, but mobilize public researchers for priorities that they wouldn't be yours ”.
For this reason, the NGOs stress that "the industry defines the general research agenda, the themes accepted for the annual project proposals, but also involve many public researchers".
GHA, based in France and India, and the CEO, based in Brussels, add that, thanks to these PPPs, “industries are able to determine (part of) the EU's research agenda, obtain funding for their projects with money of the taxpayers, they manage to have more scientists and research institutes working on their private projects and, at the end of the processes, keep the results secret and, or, privatize the conclusions ”.
And they emphasize: "At a time when the growing public awareness of the need for robust public health systems, as well as climate change, this approach is very counterproductive and a form of poor governance".