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Video conference of research ministers, 27 November 2020

Met dank overgenomen van Raad van de Europese Unie (Raad), gepubliceerd op vrijdag 27 november 2020, 17:30.

Main results

Exchange of views on the new research and development (R&D) investment targets proposed by the European Commission in its communication ‘A new ERA for Research and Innovation’

Ministers held (via video conference) an informal exchange of views on the investment targets for research and development (R&D) proposed by the Commission in its communication ‘A new ERA for Research and Innovation’ of 30 September 2020.

Research and innovation are essential to support the competitiveness and resilience of our economies and facilitate Europe’s green and digital transitions. I am working to ensure that the European Research and Innovation Union will play a leading role in the international competition for future technologies. This requires enhanced research and development investments as well as continuous reforms in national research and innovation systems. We need both quantity and quality in public and private investments in research and development to ensure our future sustainable growth-based competitiveness and quality of life.

Anja Karliczek, German federal minister of education and research

Ministers broadly shared the view that R&D is essential to the competitiveness, resilience and the green and digital transitions of the EU economy. This is even more the case in times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several ministers called for the prioritising of investment aimed at modernising and upgrading Europe’s socio-economic system in order to ensure sustainable growth and catch up with international competitors. To increase overall investment in R&D, it is essential to attract more private investment in the sector.

A number of ministers stressed the importance of European partnerships and programmes and the need to strengthen synergies between research and higher education.

Ministers reaffirmed the 3% EU GDP R&D investment target as a goal to be achieved in the coming years.

Concerned by the differences among member states in terms of investment in R&D at national level, a number of ministers stressed the need to close that gap by converging towards commonly agreed investment targets. Some ministers, however, consider it premature to commit to new investment targets at a time when the overall negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis on national economies is not yet known.


The Commission communication ‘A new ERA for Research and Innovation’, issued on 30 September 2020, proposes a new set of R&D investment targets:

  • Reaffirm the 3% EU GDP R&D investment target and update it to reflect the new EU priorities.
  • Agree on a new 1.25% EU GDP public effort target to be achieved by 2030 in an EU coordinated manner.
  • Agree to voluntarily commit 5% of national public R&D funding to joint programmes and European partnerships by 2030.
  • Increase the total investment in R&D by 50% in the next five years in those member states that lag behind the EU average R&D investment over GDP.

Ahead of the discussions at the 27 November video conference, the Council's preparatory bodies had finalised a set of Council conclusions on the future of the European Research Area. These conclusions are expected to be adopted by the Council by written procedure shortly.

Any other business

  • a) 
    State of play in research and innovation dossiers related to the next multiannual financial framework (in particular Horizon Europe and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology)

In public session, the Presidency informed ministers about the progress achieved so far in negotiations with the European Parliament concerning in particular Horizon Europe and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Delays to the final adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework agreement have caused similar delays for these files. It was noted that trilogues would continue in December with the aim of reaching a political agreement with the European Parliament by the end of the year on (at least) the Horizon Europe.

  • b) 
    Recent progress on Open Science: state of play regarding the European Open Science Cloud and the Open Science Policy Platform

The Presidency and the Commission briefed ministers on the state of play regarding the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and the recently completed work of the Commission's Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP) advisory group. It was noted that the EOSC played a key role in the COVID-19 crisis by speeding up access to and sharing of research data through the newly set up European COVID-19 data platform. The Commission services, together with the EOSC governance, are preparing a new European partnership under Horizon Europe to support the EOSC from 2021 onwards.

The OSPP has completed its second mandate, covering the period from May 2018 to May 2020. It has been focusing on the challenging areas of a rewards and incentives system for open science, citizen science and indicators for researchers’ engagement.

  • c) 
    European institutionalised partnerships: state of play

The Commission briefly informed ministers of the state of play regarding the upcoming package of legislative proposals for European institutionalised partnerships (i.e. public-private partnerships established on the basis of Article 187 TFEU and public-public partnerships established on the basis of Article 185 TFEU).

It was noted that the Commission is close to finalising the following two legislative proposals:

  • a proposal for a Council regulation establishing nine joint undertakings (based on Article 187 TFEU) under Horizon Europe - single basic act (SBA);
  • a proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and the Council regarding the metrology partnership (based on Article 185 TFEU).
  • d) 
    Latest joint scientific opinion on improving pandemic preparedness and management

The Commission reported on the latest scientific opinion prepared by a group of experts (including the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission, the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, and Professor Peter Piot in his capacity as special advisor to the Commission President) regarding pandemic preparedness and management. It was noted that the opinion contained a set of recommendations aimed at:

  • e) 
    Work programme of the incoming presidency

The incoming Portuguese presidency of the Council presented its priorities in the field of research and innovation for the first half of 2021. It was noted that work will focus on two main goals, namely preparing a resilient recovery through a renewed European Research Area and leading in green and digital transformation based on R&I.

Meeting information

  • Meeting n°VC-RESEARCH-27-11
  • Video conference
  • 27 November 2020

Preparatory documents

Outcome documents

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