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Romanian presidency of the Council of the EU – priorities in higher education and research

On 1 January 2019, Romania took over, for the first time, the six-month rotating Presidency of the European Union, which it will hold until 30 June 2019. In this role the country is in close coordination with the Trio EU Presidencies of Finland (July-December 2019) and Croatia (January-June 2020), the three countries working together over an 18-month period, on the basis of a common programme. This is a period of central importance for the EU, with the anticipated Brexit on 29 March 2019, scheduled elections for the European Parliament (EP) on 23-26 May 2019, necessary advancements in the negotiations of the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and of related programmes, and with a new college of Commissioners and a President of the Commission, as well as a new president of the European Council and of the European Central Bank, all expected to be appointed in autumn.

In the field of higher education and research, the presidency underlines under pillar one of its objectives – Europe of convergence, the aim of “promoting research and innovation, digitalization and connectivity, in order to increase the competitiveness of the European economy and industry”, and of generally taking forward the negotiation process on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework.

Beyond the general objective, in the field of higher education, the Presidency’s Programme underlines the expected, namely that it will “continue discussions on the proposal for a Regulation on the Erasmus+ Programme, with a view to agreeing a programme that favours inclusion and that will contribute to increasing the mobility of pupils, student, teachers and administrative staff, as well as to promoting European values through education.” Further highlighted are the European Universities and the VET centres of excellence.

Similarly, in the field of research, the Presidency outlines the aim to “substantially advance the negotiations on the Horizon Europe file, with the aim of facilitating a fair, accessible, transparent and efficient post-2020 framework for research and innovation in the entire European area, limiting the types of implementation instruments and simplifying access for participants in the Horizon Europe Programme.

The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (EYCS) is scheduled to meet on 22-23 May 2019 in Brussels, and lists the following provisional agenda items (non-legislative) in the field of education:

  • Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages (Adoption)
  • Proposal for a Council Recommendation on high quality early childhood education and care systems (Adoption)
  • Draft Council conclusions on upskilling pathways (Adoption)

The Competitiveness Council will meet on 18-19 February and 27-28 May 2019 in Brussels. Under the Research heading it will discuss on both occasions the proposals for a Regulation (2018/0224 (COD) and for a Decision 2018/0225 (COD) of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing the specific programme implementing Horizon Europe – the Framework Programme for Research  and Innovation (Partial general approach), as well as possibly (on 28 May) the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its Strategic innovation Agenda.

Romanian EU Presidency - Programme