Gay Mitchell, former MEP and TD, has presented the European Neurological Foundation’s Award to MEP Marian Harkin in recognition for her tireless work in the European Parliament for their cause.

As last year’s inaugural winner of the award, Gay said it was his privilege to present the award and he said continued investment by the European Union in health research and innovation will help find cures and early interventions to prevent or limit some of our major current health issues.

“Horizon 2020 is the name given to the European Union’s financial programme to ensure Europe’s continued global competitiveness. The EU will spend €7.48 billion in the six years up to 2020 addressing health issues as part of this programme. The treatment of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and others will benefit greatly from this expenditure.”

“Research and innovation are crucial to economic prosperity and so measures are needed to ensure that the innovation performances of all Member States and their regions converge and improve. Experience shows that when economic crises constrain national budgets, disparities in innovation performance across Europe become more apparent. Exploiting the potential of Europe’s talent pool and maximising and spreading the benefits of innovation across the Union is therefore the best way to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness and its ability to address societal challenges in the future.”

In addition to the €7.48 billion, €816 million will be spent on additional specific measures under Horizon 2020. These include:

  • ‘Teaming’ excellent research institutions with lower performing counterparts to create or upgrade centres of excellence
  • ‘Twinning’ institutions, including staff exchanges, expert visits and training courses
  • Establishing ‘European Research Area Chairs’ to attract outstanding academics to high potential institutions
  • A Policy Support Facility to help improve national and regional research and innovation policies
  • Providing excellent researchers and innovators with better access to international networks
  • Strengthening the transnational networks of National Contact Points to provide information to those seeking support.

Gay Mitchell added: “The EU budget is now jointly decided by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. This level of expenditure on health related issues could not have come about without the excellent work of MEPs like Brian Hayes, who chairs Parliament’s Working Group on Epilepsy, and Marian Harkin, who is not only a member of that Group but who has taken a lead role in energetically pressing the wider neurological agenda within the European Parliament over a number of years. It is right that we should recognise those efforts.”