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The Council Conclusions on the future governance of the ERA, adopted on 26 November 2021, reaffirm the role of the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) as the high-level strategic policy joint advisory committee, providing early advice to the Council, the Commission and the Member States on strategic R&I policy issues. Furthermore, membership of ERAC is limited to representatives of Member States at high executive level of responsibility for R&I policies. Thus, ERAC has been given a clearly defined role as a strategic advisory body in the ERA governance, complemented by the operational role of the ERA Forum. Its primary tasks are defined as follows:
- advise on strategic policy orientations and future trends that require the refinement of Union and national - including regional - R&I policies, including on the current and the next Union R&I Framework Programme and other relevant R&I-driven Union initiatives;
- initiate updates of the ERA Policy Agenda by providing early strategic advice, informed also by consideration of the progress made in the ongoing ERA actions;
- reflect and provide advice on new policy demands which fulfil the ERA policy agenda criteria, throughout the implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda;
- interact with governance and coordination structures at similar level in other relevant policy areas, such as higher education and industry.
ERAC members are the European Commission and Member States of the European Union. With regard to the involvement of associated countries, the renewed ERAC mandate, in line with the Council's Rules of Procedure, states that “Representatives of countries associated to the EU Framework Programme, as well as relevant third countries, external experts and stakeholders may be invited to relevant Committee meetings as appropriate for specific agenda items”. Though this sounds more restrictive than the previous ERAC mandate, the practice of inviting associated countries as well as other selected third countries to participate in the work of ERAC will be continued.
ERAC is co-chaired by the European Commission (Director-General or a deputy Director-General) and an elected representative from the Member States. Currently, Ms Barbara WEITGRUBER (AT) is holding the position as a Member States co-chair.