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In a recent interview with Science Business, the EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, announced that she aims to have a more pragmatic approach on the further development of R&D, innovation and education policies in the union. She does not plan, for the moment, to launch any new large-scale initiative, but rather wants to increase operational synergies between existing programmes and policies. Nevertheless, her long-term goal seems to be the launch of a “European Knowledge Strategy”, that would bring together objectives now pursued in the framework of the European Research Area (ERA), as well as in the under-construction European Education Area (by 2025), bending the knowledge triangle to include service to society. How this strategy would link to the European Higher Education Area’s (EHEA) evolving agenda and related developments, remains to be seen, as does the specific timeline for the launch of the new strategy.
The new Commissioner seems committed to a number of topics and areas that have to do with reducing the gap between East and West, both in terms of innovation, as well as in remuneration. For example, she aims for a more inclusive approach in the distribution of funds between member states, given that the 13 member states that joined the union after 2004 receive inly 4.8% of the funding, but without going for a “pre-distribution of funds in national envelopes”.
Mariya Gabriel will also be aiming for researchers funded under the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) and Horizon Europe to have the same pay level across member states. How this proposal will be carried forward remains though to be seen as well. While such an approach might make the EU funding lines fairer for researchers being funded under these programmes, the measure will likely further increase the pay difference between MSCA or Horizon Europe grantees and national-level researchers, which is already problematic particularly in Eastern European member states.