Commission welcomes approval of the Pact for Research and Innovation in Europe and future governance of the European Research Area

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the Council of the European Union adopted a Recommendation on ‘A Pact for Research and Innovation in Europe’ (Pact for R&I), as well as its conclusions on the future governance of the European Research Area.

The Pact for R&I defines common values and principles for research and innovation in Europe, such as freedom of scientific research and free circulation of researchers and knowledge. It also outlines 16 shared priority areas for joint action, ranging from fostering open science for faster sharing of knowledge and data, to reinforcing the scientific leadership and excellence of the European Union, with the involvement of all European regions and citizens.

At the same time, the conclusions of the Council include the first European Research Area Policy Agenda, setting out 20 voluntary actions for the next three years. Among these actions are promoting attractive and sustainable research careers, bringing science closer to citizens and improving EU-wide access to excellence.

Together, the Pact and the conclusions set out a new vision and priorities, confirm the EU’s and Member States’ commitment to the European Research Area and set up a new structure for its management. They mark an important milestone in realising ‘A new European Research Area for Research and Innovation’.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, said: “Together with the Member States we are now going ahead with the Pact for Research and Innovation, as well as a new and efficient governance structure of the new European Research Area. Laying out our common values and our strategic priorities for research and innovation will help us unite our research and innovation efforts and bring innovative sustainable solutions to the market.”

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The adoption of the Pact and the Council conclusions is a step forward in our ambition to create an ERA fit for the future. It shows our common commitment to mobilise research and innovation policies with concrete actions towards the challenges of today and notably the green and digital transitions. The new governance framework allows us to work even closer together with Member States and stakeholders to create the single, borderless market for research, innovation and technology that Europe needs for its competitiveness.”

The Pact for R&I testifies to Europe’s ambition for reforms in support of research and innovation and establishes the basis for a simplified coordination with Member States and an updated monitoring mechanism to evaluate the progress made. The new governance for the European Research Area (ERA) will improve the current structure to allow for closer collaboration and coordination of policies across the EU and its Member States. This includes the development of the first ERA Policy Agenda with concrete actions for the next three years. The priority areas for action established in the Pact provide a stable framework for updates of the joint ERA policy agenda for the period after 2024.

Going forward, the future ERA Forum, a Commission expert group composed of the Commission and Member States’ representatives, will be established at the beginning of 2022. In the context of the ERA Forum, the Member States and the Commission will co-design and coordinate the implementation of the ERA actions, prepare future updates of the ERA Policy Agenda, and ensure the involvement of Horizon Europe Associated Countries, relevant third countries and stakeholders. Moreover, the new ERA monitoring system, including a scoreboard, a dashboard and an online policy platform, will be created by mid-2022.

Background

First launched in 2000, the European Research Area aims to better integrate Europe’s research and innovation systems and to enhance cooperation between the EU, Member States, and stakeholders.

Today’s evolving context, including the EU’s ambitions in the green and digital transition and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and society, placed new needs on the European Research Area. The process to revitalise the ERA began in 2018. The Commission Communication on ‘A new ERA for Research and Innovation’ of September 2020 set out a new vision, which was endorsed by the Council conclusions on the new ERA in December 2020. The establishment of the ERA Forum for Transition, an expert group composed of the Commission and Member States, kick-started the joint work at the beginning of 2020.

Following up on the Commission’s proposal in July 2021, the Pact for R&I defines priority areas for joint action in the European Research Area, sets out the ambition for investments and reforms and forms the basis for a simplified policy coordination and monitoring process at EU and Member States’ level to share their reform and investment approaches and enhance the exchange of best practices.

The adoption of the Pact for R&I and the Council conclusions today, including the first ERA Policy Agenda, are essential steps to put the vision into practice. Both milestones adopted today have greatly benefitted from the work in the ERA Forum for Transition, including the involvement of stakeholders.

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