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Croatian presidency – priorities and events

Croatia took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) at the beginning of January, in a crucial period for the EU, with, amongst others, the finetuning of Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programmes currently on hold because of ongoing negotiations around the EU’s long-term budget, officially known as Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2021-2027 (MFF).
The four priorities of the Croatian presidency in the area of education and training are the following:

  • To increase the role of education and training in the European semester (a cycle of economic and fiscal policy coordination within the EU), which is becoming more prominent as member states are receiving more and more recommendations in the field of education and training. One tangible outcome – the Resolution on Education and Training – is planned to be adopted in February 2020.
  • Balanced mobility and brain circulation, as a precondition for cohesion: “Talents are spread equally but opportunities are not” stated Croatian Minister for Science and Education, Blaženka Divjak, in a CULT committee meeting in the European Parliament.
  • European teachers and trainers for the future, with a focus on innovative pedagogies and digital technologies at all levels. The expected result are Council’s Conclusions for European teachers and Trainers for the Future, planned to be adopted in May 2020.
  • The initially panned proposal for the new post 2020 Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET2030) should be published in the second half of 2020 and, therefore, the German presidency will likely take over the discussions. What will be presented by the European Commission during the Croatian presidency is the updated Skills Agenda for Europe, which will include the proposal for a new Recommendation on Vocational Education and Training. Adoption is hoped for May 2020.

In the presidency context, the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education will be hosting in Zagreb the meeting of the International Bologna Process Monitoring Group, on February 6 and 7. The agenda includes the preparation of the Ministerial Conference in Rome, with an emphasis on the discussion of the Draft Ministerial Communiqué and the discussions on reports of the various EHEA Working Groups, Advisory Groups and Networks. The European Youth, Sports and Culture (EYSC) Council will meet on 20 February and on 18 March.

In the legislation processes regarding research, the focus will be to advance the negotiations on open files. These are recitals and Annex 4 of the Regulation of Horizon Europe – Synergies between Horizon Europe and other EU programmes, as they were not part of the ‘Common understanding’ (agreement) between co-legislators in March 2019.

In non-legislative discussions, the spotlight will be on encouraging more favourable conditions for brain circulation. According to the Croatian presidency, this should remain one of the corner stones of European research area, and it needs better incentives, tools and policy reforms at EU and national levels. The expected tangible result – the Zagreb call for action on brain circulation - will likely be adopted at the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) conference in April in Zagreb. One of the concrete steps is the call for equal pay for all researchers in MSCA, regardless of their country of origin, an idea with support from Bulgarian Commissioner for education and research Mariya Gabriel and Romanian MEP Dan Nica, the shadow rapporteur in European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) on Horizon Europe.

An informal meeting of Ministers for Competitiveness (Research) is scheduled on 3 and 4 February 2020 in Zagreb. The topic of brain circulation will be discussed from the perspective of well-being of researchers (social and labour rights), collaborative networks (including intersectionality and interdisciplinarity), increased participation of researchers and the research community in relevant research and innovation programmes, and complementary actions in the form of national-level measures that support brain circulation. The Competitiveness council meetings on research and space are scheduled on 28 and 29 February in Brussels.

Croatian Ministry of Science and Education