11 Oct 2023
ERAC discusses next ERA Policy Agenda and line to take towards twin transitions
ERAC met on 9 October 2023 for a plenary meeting hosted by the Spanish Presidency of the Council in Malaga.
The meeting focussed primarily on the next ERA Policy Agenda (EPA). The strategic debate on the national implementation of the EU Missions that had originally been planned for the Malaga meeting, had been taken off the agenda upon request of the Spanish Council Presidency.
ERAC discussed the procedure and timeline for the establishment of the next EPA. DG Marc Lemaitre proposed to postpone the Commission’s proposal for a Council Recommendation on the next ERA Policy Agenda from autumn 2024 to early 2025, so that the proposal could then be put forward by the new Commission, which will become operational in November 2024. The main reasons given for this by the Commission were the aim to secure high-level political ownership of the next EPA also by the new Commission, and to gain more time for the co-creation process between Commission, Member States and Stakeholders for drafting the EPA and for securing political commitment to the future ERA actions.
While a few Member States expressed concerns about a possible loss of dynamics through a prolonged drafting process, there was general agreement that having more time for co-creation could be beneficial to the process. Though no formal position was formulated, a majority of ERAC delegations approved the proposed postponement.
The future Hungarian Presidency informed the ERAC plenary that instead of negotiating the Council Recommendation on the next ERA Policy Agenda during its Presidency (second half of 2024) as originally planned, Hungary might initiate Council Conclusions, by means of which the Council would take stock of the implementation of the first ERA Policy Agenda and the lessons learned. The future Polish Presidency (first half of 2025) would then take over the task of negotiating the Council Recommendation.
ERAC delegations unanimously supported the inclusion of a policy narrative as an initial part of the next ERA Policy Agenda, such a text could explain the political objectives and the link to the Pact for R&I. Furthermore the narrative could clarify the relation between the first and second ERA Policy Agenda. By providing the link to the bigger political picture, it could also contribute to ownership by the political leaders and make the ERA Policy Agenda more “communicable” to the public.
On the initiative of the Finnish ERAC delegation, ERAC discussed the challenges posed by the twin transitions, especially with a view to conflicting interests (e.g. technologies for the digital transition often consuming high amounts of energy). FI posed the question whether ERAC could have a positive influence on this debate, and if this issue should be reflected in the next ERA Policy Agenda. Several Member States underlined the need for a holistic approach to the problem as well as for sufficient investment (not only on the level of citizens, but also on the state level). ERAC could further facilitate the development of inter-sectoral cooperation in ERA, thus also serving the above-mentioned holistic view. Further enhancing Open Science could also support the tackling of the twin transitions. ERAC members suggested to exchange experiences and best-practices on this issue. Greater impact could be achieved by not only addressing policymakers, but also end-users/citizens. Action 12 of the current ERA Policy Agenda could be re-considered with a view to the twin transition.
On the day after the ERAC meeting, the ERAC Task Force on the next Framework Programme met at the same venue as the ERAC plenary, to start its discussion on the third and most concrete part of its work towards an ERAC Opinion on FP10. This part elaborates ERAC’s opinion on the management, structure and instruments of FP 10. The Task Force had an exchange of views on important issues in this context. It was decided to create three working groups to enable concentrated work on specific issues in the coming weeks, with a view to concluding these tasks early next year. Finally the Task Force confirmed its target to deliver its final report by early March next year, in time for preparing a strategic discussion in the next ERAC plenary and to enable the final adoption of the ERAC Opinion on the next Framework Programme by June 2024.