23 Jun 2023
ERAC meets in Lund to discuss ERA Policy Agenda and global approach
On 21 and 22 June 2023, ERAC met in Lund, Sweden, to discuss an agenda packed with highly important current topics. It was the first meeting for the new EC Director General for Research and Innovation, Marc Lemaitre, in his role as ERAC co-Chair. The meeting was generously hosted by the Swedish Council Presidency.
Framed by a presentation of the results of a survey on the national implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda (EPA) 2022-2024 in the Member States (MS) and Associated Countries (AC), done by the German Ministry for Education and Research, ERAC discussed both the implementation of the current and the lessons learned for the next ERA Policy cycles. The German survey showed that MS and AC have very different ways of implementing the ERA Policy Agenda, while at the same time ERA policies are highly relevant for the national policies and systems throughout the ERA. Another important finding of the survey was that most MS and AC suffer from staff shortages for the implementation of the ERA Actions. The tenor of the interventions was that the flexible approach to national implementation should be continued, while the number of ERA actions should be reduced. ERA actions should be clear, without sub-actions, but with clear objectives and responsibilities. Eventually, the ERA Policy Agenda would need to be given a smart structure, in order to bring ambition and manageability together.
The second discussion block dealt with the global approach in R&I, focussing on science diplomacy and on cooperation with China. In general, ERAC members supported stepping collaboration in both areas. They agreed that science diplomacy can have very positive effects and could play a role in building up Europe’s strategic autonomy as well as tackling foreign interference. Member States strongly supported the continuation of gathering strategic intelligence about China, highlighted the work within EU-KNOC, and proposed to increase this kind of collaboration with a view of developing coherent and unified approaches.
As the ERAC Task Force on "Guidance for the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation” had met the day before the ERAC meeting, the co-Chairs of the Task Force informed ERAC members about the progress of the work of the Task Force. Their main message was that the Task Force is aiming to draft an ambitious and courageous narrative and vision for FP 10 that takes into account the global environment and evolving challenges. The Task Force will further intensify its work and meet on a monthly basis from September.
Furthermore, ERAC held a strategic discussion on the issue of a Science for Policy Ecosystem in Europe, both at EU and at national levels. ERAC strongly underlined the importance of the topic and the need for structured scientific support to policymaking. At EU level, common standards should be developed for the use of Member States. At Member States’ level, existing knowledge should be shared and exploited. ERAC members encouraged the Commission to continue its work in this area, building on existing initiatives. The Commission invited ERAC members to participate in the S4P conference on 10-11 October in Brussels.
Finally ERAC discussed the issue of a coordinated approach towards advanced materials in the EU, an issue of strategic relevance for Europe's long-term self-sufficiency conerning critical raw materials, enabling technologies for circularity etc. Member States agreed that this is a topic of strategic relevance and welcomed a coordinated approach, taking on board all relevant actors (MS, EU, industry) as well as digital tools. A co-funded Partnership under Horizon Europe, building on existing ERA-NETs, was suggested as an implementation mechanism for low TRL research and to align related national agendas.