The European Union Competitiveness Ministers met on 3 February for an in-depth discussion on the European Research Area. The meeting was chaired by the Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor.
The Horizon Europe programme, presented the day before this meeting, was also discussed, as it is a fundamental tool for achieving the goals set for research and innovation. Now, in the same context, the ministers have been given the opportunity to deal with topics related to the creation of new jobs in the European Union, the development of scientific careers and the promotion of qualified human resources.
The European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, presented a proposal for the creation of a transition forum for the European Research Area. Minister Manuel Heitor believes this is “an important moment for building a stronger European research area and continuing to strengthen it”.
Manuel Heitor highlighted three core issues that were addressed at the meeting:
- The importance of collecting data, both on our researchers and on their mobility patterns. To do this, a joint effort must be made by the European Commission and National Agencies.
- The need to review the code of conduct for the recruitment of researchers in Europe within one year.
- Strengthening alliances between European universities under the scope of the Erasmus+ programme.
But there is a new aspect which, in the words of the Portuguese Minister “could be particularly important for the Europe of the future”. This is a question of adopting a new European system for sustainable funding of companies in such a way that it can be associated with the continued development of research careers and investment by companies in these areas.
Joint work by the 27 Member States
Commissioner Mariya Gabriel’s aim is to turn challenges into opportunities. In a speech focusing on the importance of synergies in the areas of research, education and innovation, the Commissioner explained the different initiatives referred to by the Portuguese Minister, Manuel Heitor, highlighting the need to encourage all the Member States to work together. This will make it possible to provide the best conditions for researchers.
Meanwhile, the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, Thomas Rachel, emphasised the work done by the previous Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the negotiations that made it possible to approve the Multiannual Financial Framework and the Horizon Europe programme. He also promised to support Minister Manuel Heitor during the current Portuguese Presidency, as well as the next minister, from Slovenia, as they continue to work on these dossiers.