Thursday, 3 May 2018

To Infinity and Beyond

Horizon Europe: an artist's impression
Those of you with long memories may remember the naming of Horizon 2020. There was a competition to come up with a shortlist of names. This was then put to a public vote. Horizon 2020 won by a mere 270 votes. The runner up was Imagine 2020, which frankly sounds more like a futuristic question than a bold title.

This time round they've eschewed a public vote in favour of a decision by an anonymous group, with an announcement slipped out in a blogpost written by Carlos Moedas. I really can't think *why* the EC may have been nervous about putting things to a public vote.

So the winner is Horizon Europe. It's Horizon because, apparently 'our brand means excellence.' Europe because 'we are proud of our collective strength.' All good and sensible, though Carlos does go on to say that 'the name "Horizon Europe" also speaks to our pride.' Well, you know what pride comes before.

But like children, naming things is both the simplest and most complex thing in the world. It's just a label, but it also defines and affects the thing it names for the all time, as Moon Unit Zappa can attest.

So, in terms of nominative determinism, what's in store for Horizon Europe (or possibly HE for short, though that could get confusing for English speakers working in higher education)? Well there's no end point for a start. HE is infinite and ongoing. You never reach the horizon. However, that's balanced by 'Europe', which has boundaries, albeit shifting ones. So both endless and inward looking, thinking big but within limits. It's reminds me of Eliot in 'Little Gidding':

'We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.'

Well, there are worse aspirations.

And does this mean that all future framework programmes will have to be prefixed with 'Horizon'? For FP10 my money's on 'Beyond the Horizon'. Possibly 'Horizontal Europe' or, if they're feeling particularly daring, 'Vertical Europe'. But I hope they go all the way and name it 'To Infinity and Beyond'.

Anyway, let's just be grateful they didn't name it 'Horizon Europe Minus One'. There's hope for the UK yet.


  1. Not "Vertical Europe"... surely "Horizon Tal"

  2. "Horizon Europe Minus One"
    As Europe themselves might say:
    "It's the final countdown ..."