Today, European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen presented her team and the new structure of the next European Commission. Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria) is Commissioner-designate for Innovation and Youth, her portfolio will also cover education and research. Ms. Gabriel is a current European Commissioner and has so far been responsible for the digital portfolio.
In her Mission Letter to Ms. Gabriel, Ms. von der Leyen highlights the importance of young people, innovators and researchers as "the best investment in our future", stating that "Education, research and innovation will be key to our competitiveness and our ability to lead in the transition to a climate-neutral economy and new digital age ...By cooperating across languages, borders and disciplines, we can collectively address the societal challenges and skills shortages that currently exist."
Ms. von der Leyen outlines Ms. Gabriel's future tasks with regard to education, research and innovation as follows:
"Your task over the next five years is to harness this potential and to ensure that education, research and innovation help us deliver on our ambitions and wider objectives.
- You should ensure swift agreement on and full implementation of the future Horizon Europe programme, working with Member States, the research community, civil society and other Commissioners. As part of this, you should ensure sufficient investment flows to disruptive research and breakthrough innovations, notably through the European Innovation Council.
- To stay competitive globally, we should better support our innovators to bring their ideas to the market. I want you to work with Member States to build a true European Research Area in which we pull together all national and European efforts.
- I want you to ensure that research, policy and economic priorities go hand in hand. This will involve working with Commissioners across the entire range of EU policies, contributing to the new industrial strategy and making the most of the new thematic missions within the future Horizon Europe programme.
- You should support the objective of tripling the Erasmus+ programme as part of the next budget. A swift agreement is essential to ensure all beneficiaries can make the most of the opportunities provided by the programme.
- I want you to lead the work on making the European Education Area a reality by 2025, working in close cooperation with regional and national authorities. This should focus on removing barriers to learning, improving access to quality education and making it easier for learners to move between countries.
- I want you to promote excellence and networking among European universities. You should focus on the full implementation of the European Universities initiative, learning the lessons from the current pilot phase. This will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several European countries and contribute to the international standing and competitiveness of our universities.
- I want you to focus on digital literacy and education to close the digital skills gap. You should lead on the updating of the Digital Education Action Plan and look at how we can increase the take-up of massive open online courses. You should also look at how to help increase awareness from an early age of disinformation and other online threats.
- You should maximise the potential of our exchange programmes to foster international cooperation in education, research and innovation.
As a next step, the European Parliament, after hearings of the Commissioners-designate in the relevant Parliamentary committees, has to give its consent to the entire College of Commissioners, including the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. Once the European Parliament has given its consent, the European Council formally appoints the European Commission.
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