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Handing over the baton: Portugal’s HE priorities for its upcoming Council Presidency

Portugal will take over from Germany the presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 January 2021. Finding solutions for the recovery of the current economic and social crisis remains the main priority of the EU Council and education and research play a key role. In this respect the Trio’s priorities of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia are the Future of Research and Innovation and the European Research Area, the updated Digital Education Action Plan, and the development of European Education Area. 

Germany is completing its Presidency on a high note with the long-awaited political agreement on the EU Multiannual Finanancial Framework (2021-2027) and sectoral programmes. As the German presidency of the Council and the European Parliament's negotiating team secured a provisional deal on the Erasmus+ and Horizon programmes, ensuring their start in 2021 (see ACA Newsletter, December 2020), it will now be the task of Portugal to formalise the provisional agreements and to prepare the implementation.  

The Portuguese Presidency will also drive the development of a strategic framework for the implementation of the European Education Area and concentrate on the European Universities Initiative and the EU transformation agenda for higher education, among others. According to the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal Manuel Heitor, Portugal will have four main objectives in higher education: enlargement of access; further diversification and specialisation of the sector; greater role of higher education in research and innovation for better employment; and opening up of institutions and higher education networks to Europe to support mobility of students and teachers.