Informal conference of Competitiveness Ministers discusses research response to Covid-19
On Friday, 29 May 2020, EU Research Ministers and the European Commission represented by Mariya Gabriel and Margarethe Vestager held an exchange of views on the lessons learned from the Covid-19 crisis and how to react in terms of boosting jobs and improving preparedness from an R&I perspective. The meeting was held as an informal videoconference.
For the most part, both the Member States and the Commission agreed that it was good and important that the EU reacted quickly and informally by launching the Covid-19 R&I action plan. However, their predominant assessment also was that this reaction was not well coordinated, that the EU needs to improve its preparedness to jointly react to imminent threats, and that joint structures should be set up to this end.
Several Ministers stressed that it is now time to return to formal structures and procedures, and to look at the medium to longer term measures to be taken, both in terms of preparedness for future crises and in terms of strengthening the resilience and strategic autonomy of the Union. In this respect, several delegations underlined the potential of the European Research Area to play an important role if effective and flexible structures can be put in place. Both the Member States and the European Commission emphasised that Europe should look ahead rather than look back, and that the Union should use the crisis for accelerating the transformations needed for the Green Deal and for digitalisation. Ministers agreed that R&I plays an important role both in overcoming the immediate crisis and for the recovery of Europe, and that more and more effective collaboration is needed. In this respect, many delegations highlighted the importance of sharing information and of implementing open science and open data policies.
Finally the incoming German Council Presidency presented its programme for the second semester of 2020. Crisis management and European recovery will be the future Presidency's guiding objectives. Under this umbrella, the German Presidency will undertake to pursue the Horizon Europe negotiations and the relaunch of the European Research Area, with a strong emphasis on the Green Deal, human-centred digitalisation, and technological sovereignty.