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On 15 November, the Council adopted Conclusions on the governance of the European Research Area (ERA) and a Pact for research and innovation (R&I) in Europe.
As expected from the draft unveiled by the Slovenian Presidency in September (for more details, see ACA Newsletter – Education in Europe, September 2021), the conclusions set out priorities and a streamlined governance framework for the ERA, including an ERA policy agenda for 2022-2024 and a catalogue of 20 voluntary ERA actions in four policy areas for this period.
Specific ERA actions proposed by the Council in the ERA policy agenda 2022-2024 will be implemented on a voluntary basis by the member states and the European Commission in cooperation with countries associated to the Horizon Europe and research, academic and business organisations, as well as with other partner countries where applicable.
In this respect, the conclusions recognise the role of the ERA Forum in the coordination towards the implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda and as a vehicle to ensure a more systematic involvement of stakeholders in the delivery of the ERA. This decision reflected a plea to Minister Simona Kustec and Commissioner Mariya Gabriel issued by 16 research and higher education associations to support the involvement of European R&I stakeholders in the ERA governance process via the ERA Forum. The adopted conclusions also foresee a greater involvement of countries associated to the Horizon Europe in the ERA process, which will be invited to identify the ERA actions in which they wish to participate.
Under the new Pact for R&I, member states commit for the coming years to: i) a set of common EU principles and values for R&I; ii) shared priority areas for action; iii) investments and reforms, and iv) a simplified policy coordination and monitoring process.
By mid-2022, the European Commission should present a monitoring and evaluation framework for the implementation of the ERA. It should review the implementation of the policy agenda every 18 months. It is also expected to issue a report to the Council on the state of play of the policy agenda.