Competitiveness Council (Research and space), 26 November 2021
Future governance of the ERA & Pact for research and innovation
Ministers approved conclusions on the streamlined governance of the European Research Area (ERA), including an ERA policy agenda for 2022-2024, and adopted a Pact for research and innovation (R&I) in Europe, which sets out a strengthened coordination mechanism.
I am pleased to announce that we have completed the ‘full picture’ of the new European Research Area. With the introduction of this multilevel governance model, we are able to deliver on the New ERA. Today’s Council conclusions and the Pact provide concrete actions that will help us to respond in a more efficient way to societal challenges.
Simona Kustec, Slovenian Minister for Education, Science and Sport
Infographic - European Research Area
Under the new Pact for research and innovation, member states commit to: i) a set of common EU principles and values for research and innovation; ii) shared priority areas for action; iii) investments and reforms, and iv) a simplified policy coordination and monitoring process.
The specific ERA actions contained in the ERA policy agenda 2022-2024 will be implemented on a voluntary basis by the member states, together with the European Commission and in cooperation with countries associated with the ‘Horizon Europe’ programme, together with research, academic and business organisations, and also with other partner countries where applicable.
Research and innovation in achieving cross-sectoral objectives
EU ministers held a policy debate on research and innovation in achieving cross-sectoral objectives. During their interventions, ministers focused on how their countries organise cross-sectoral coordination for European initiatives under the Fit for 55 package, New European Bauhaus and HERA. Most member states mentioned they are well on their way in the inclusion of research and innovation in these initiatives, and explained what concrete steps they have taken so far.
Many ministers mentioned the importance of a good governance structure, and highlighted that funding for research and innovation should be used for the right purposes. Many ministers mentioned that they consider cooperation with stakeholders, such as scientists and the private sector, of key importance.
Other topics on the agenda Institutionalised European partnerships
The Slovenian presidency updated ministers on the state of play of the negotiations on the regulation establishing the joint undertakings under Horizon Europe, which was adopted on 19 November 2021, as well as on the European partnership on metrology, which was adopted on 18 November 2021.
The regulation establishing the joint undertakings under Horizon Europe complements the existing Horizon Europe framework by involving public and private partners in European partnerships. They will address global challenges and priorities that require critical mass and long-term vision. The regulation will enter into force on 30 November 2021.
The decision on the involvement of the European Union in the European Partnership on metrology is one of the priority areas in the package of proposals for institutionalised European partnerships under Horizon Europe. Metrology is the study of measurement, and this decision will make sure that measurement standards across member states are aligned. The regulation will enter into force on 30 November 2021.
These two acts, together with the regulation on establishing the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC) that was adopted on 13 July 2021, complete the package of three legal acts setting up institutionalised European partnerships.
Key events and activities during the Slovenian presidency
The presidency updated ministers on the Ljubljana declaration on gender in research and innovation. The declaration, which was presented by the Slovenian presidency on 8-9 July 2021, underlines the importance of gender equality, and of mainstreaming gender equality across research and innovation.
The presidency was pleased to announce that the declaration was endorsed by 35 parties, including member states, the European Commission, associated countries, accession countries and third countries.
Ministers were also briefed on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions conference on ‘Brain circulation and researchers’ careers’, which was held on 15-16 November. The Slovenian presidency updated ministers on the ERA Conference ‘Towards a responsible knowledge-driven society of the 3rd Millennium’, which was held on 26-27 October in Brdo, Slovenia, and on the ‘Plastic Pirates initiative’, a campaign that aims to raise awareness on the need for a cleaner and greener future. It also announced an event related to the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, which will take place on 7 December.
Other business points
The European Commission provided information on the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), and the French delegation presented its work programme for the upcoming French presidency.
Infographic - EU in space
‘Space for everyone’
The Council approved conclusions on ‘space for everyone’, stressing the importance of the participation of stakeholders from all member states in the space sector and of strengthening the links between the space and non-space sectors.
The Slovenian presidency highlighted the important role that space can play in responding to global challenges. They emphasised that it can increase social resilience and the capacity to recover from crises. The presidency believes the conclusions are a strong statement that emphasise the importance of stakeholders engagement and member state cooperation in keeping the European economy competitive.
The long-term sustainable development and the financing of ‘New Space’
Ministers shared their thoughts on the financing and on the long-term sustainable development of ‘New Space’.
Many ministers welcomed a European approach to space traffic management. Member states broadly welcomed the CASSINI initiative, which is a €1 billion European fund that would boost start-ups and space innovation. Most member states stressed the need to support SMEs and start-ups in the space sector, as well as the importance of the sustainability of outer space.
Other topics on the agenda Space traffic management
The Slovenian presidency presented its report on space traffic management, which emphasises the sustainable use of outer space and a safe and secure environment for both assets and people.
The presidency report on space traffic management is of significant importance for the Slovenian presidency, particularly in light of the recent events involving a destructive satellite test, which highlights the problem of space debris.
The report paves the way for the possible adoption of an EU position under the French Presidency.
Also on the agenda of ministers for space was the item ‘building an EU space-based global secure communication system’, under which the presidency briefed ministers on the EU conference ‘Secure connectivity’ which took place on 10 November 2021. The secure connectivity initiative could be the third flagship project after Galileo and Copernicus. Its objective is to provide broadband access to all, and to ensure resilient communications for government users and specific sectors such as finance, energy and transport.
Linked to the agenda point on the secure connectivity, the European Commission provided information on its future proposal ‘Building an EU space-based global secure communication system’, which is scheduled for the second quarter of 2022.
The French presidency presented its work programme for the upcoming French presidency.
-26 November 2021