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“Europe should lead with greater knowledge and a revitalised European Research Area”

Met dank overgenomen van Portugees voorzitterschap Europese Unie 1e helft 2021, gepubliceerd op vrijdag 26 februari 2021.

Understanding how knowledge, innovation and research can be decisive for European resilience and recovery: this was the key topic of the informal video conference held by the Ministers responsible for Research. The meeting was chaired from Brussels by the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor.

For Manuel Heitor, recovery and resilience are connected with the European Research Area, which will be a source of support for the green and digital transition. “From quantum science to vaccines and green hydrogen, we are facing challenges, as well as opportunities. And we know that science creates markets, and creates jobs, in addition to economic activities with added value.”

“We have defined action lines for where we would like to be in ten and twenty years. Because innovation is a positive force for change,” stated the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel. The European Research Area will also help competitiveness. “This is the right time to stimulate growth,” she added.

The Commissioner also emphasized the importance of structural reform to help counter the fragmentation of science, create results-oriented mechanisms, and foster the idea of “open science”. Along with Manuel Heitor, she endorsed the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises, and the contribution of research to the economy.

Synergies and coordination between the national, European and international contexts

It is important to establish synergies and coordination between the Horizon Europe programme and the Recovery and Resilience Plans. It is also necessary to connect the national and European contexts and stimulate international funding in the area of innovation and research. “Taking the specific characteristics of countries into account, as well as taking European recovery into account,” the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education argued.

There is consensus among Ministers on the need to coordinate private and public funding in the European Union’s objectives, to reach the aim of being able to invest 3% of the gross domestic product in research and development in 2030.

Metrology and biodegradability

In the light of the growing importance of metrology, the European Union will be participating in a partnership in this field, to be presented this year. The goal is to contribute to global leadership and be a launching pad for emerging technology.

The Scientific Opinion on the Biodegradability of Plastics in the Open Environment is something to which the Member States will also be paying attention, since this may provide a solution in connection with the circular economy and the manner in which plastics can be recycled.

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