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On 28 September, Ministers adopted Council conclusions on the global approach to research and innovation, ‘Europe’s strategy for international cooperation in a changing world’. In these conclusions, ministers identify key actions to strengthen the EU’s global role in research and innovation, with a strong focus on shared fundamental values and principles, cooperation by reciprocity, the need for strategic autonomy and freedom of scientific research and gender equality.
The new global approach to research and innovation (R&I) sees the Horizon Europe programme as the central framework for the facilitation of international R&I cooperation. The conclusions aim for the continuous involvement of member states, and call for more cooperation with countries associated under Horizon Europe and with other third countries.
Furthermore, the Council is expected to adopt Council conclusions on the governance of the European Research Area (ERA) by the end of 2021, which articulate governance and the monitoring of procedures of the ERA, including in the area of international R&I cooperation.
Draft Council conclusions were published by the Slovenian Presidency of the EU on 13 September. The proposal for revising the governance framework for the ERA is driven by the rapidly changing context, reflecting the need to leverage scientific leadership more effectively for society and the economy, in view of the challenges raised by the Covid-19 pandemic, and for the benefit of digital and green transition. It also advocates for the need to involve relevant stakeholders in the design and implementation of ERA-related actions. The new ERA governance is to be shaped by the following:
When it comes to the governance architecture of the ERA, the Council will play a decision-making and policy-guiding role through the priorities defined in the Pact for Research and Innovation and the ERA Policy Agenda, whereas the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) will act as the main high-level strategic policy joint advisory committee, providing input to the Council, the Commission and the member states on strategic R&I policy issues.
Furthermore, the ERA Forum, including its possible sub-groups, will be the central body for the reinforced implementation of the ERA, supporting the Commission and the Member States in the delivery of the ERA objectives, including the involvement of stakeholders. Co-chaired by the Commission and a Member State representative, the ERA Forum is expected to be launched by the end of 2021. The Commission is also invited by the Council to set up an open online voluntary stakeholder register to increase transparency in the identification of the ERA stakeholders involved in the work of the ERA Forum and its sub-groups.