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18 Jun 2020

EU and African Union agree on R&I priorities to tackle COVID-19

On 18 June 2020, during an EU-African Union (AU) High Level Policy Dialogue plenary on science, technology and innovation, senior officials of Research Ministries in the EU and the AU focused on COVID-19. The meeting was co-chaired by Maria Cristina Russo, R&I Director for International Cooperation, and James Kagiwa, chair of the AU Specialised Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Uganda. They confirmed that Research and Innovation is essential in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and collaboration between the EU and the African Union in this domain is key.

Officials agreed that the priority of collaboration is to address the COVID-19 crisis in the short-term and focus the cooperation on mobilising and guiding investments, and focusing delivery towards equitable access for new COVID-19 testing and diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. A lot of investment has already gone into the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership that recently redirected its scope to include COVID-19 and launched three expressions of interest that led to a very high number of excellent proposals.The senior officials furthermore agreed that special attention must be given to the role that R&I should play in the green recovery of the crisis, as socio-economic impacts are expected to be even more devastating, especially in Africa. The main three R&I Partnerships were discussed on (i) Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA), (ii) Climate Change and Sustainable Energy (CCSE) and (iii) Innovation (AEIP), as well as the essential cross-cutting issues that require cooperation, such as open science, gender, human capital development and science advice for policy.

This meeting is the first of a series of high level meetings on research and innovation between the EU and the AU, in view of preparing an EU-AU Ministerial meeting for Research Ministers (16 July) and culminating in the EU-AU Summit at the end of October 2020.

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