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Commission reveals plans for European Institute of Technology

The European Commission has just released a communication outlining the key elements of the proposal of a European Institute of Technology (EIT). The idea to create an EIT as a “new flagship for excellence in higher education, research and innovation” was originally proposed by President Barroso as part of the relaunched Lisbon agenda (see ACA Newsletter-Education Europe n° 53 and 49).

The communication, based on the outcomes of a public consultation, outlines the EIT’s overall “architecture”:

  • The EIT would be designed to strengthen Europe’s knowledge-triangle of research, education and innovation;
  • It would have a two-tiered structure, consisting of a small central core – a governing board with a small supporting administration - and a network of knowledge communities distributed at institutions all over Europe.
  • The EIT would integrate teams from universities, research centres and companies.
  • The governing board, composed of "top personalities" from the science and business sectors, would decide on the strategy and budget of the EIT and select and evaluate the knowledge communities.
  • The geographical location of the central core has not yet been specified. However, the fact that the EIT is proposed as a multi-site institution has dampened the debate on where it would be placed, an issue which had caused much controversy since discussions began.
  • The communication does not yet contain a budget proposal. It states, however, that the EIT should be funded by a variety of sources, including the EU, Members States and the private sector.

The new proposals have not quelled critics that believe the institution could dilute Europe's hard-pressed research budgets. Even though the Commission stressed that the EIT would differ from the European Research Council (ERC), in that it would be a “knowledge operator,” there are fears that funds would be diverted away from the ERC, regarded as crucial for the future of high-level European research.

In its communication, the European Commission invites the European Council to consider the elements outlined. Heads of state will hardly be able to overlook this agenda item: the EIT is the only education item up for review at the European Council spring summit in March.

European Commission - press release
Commission press release - frequently asked questions