Research Ministers send clear signal for a more united EU in the field of R&I
On Tuesday, 21 July 2020, Research Ministers held a first informal meeting under the German EU Council Presidency to discuss important joint initiatives in the field of R&I for the recovery and the future of Europe. The meeting was originally planned to be a first discussion on the future of ERA, on the basis of a Communication from the Commission that had been expected for June this year. The delay of the Communication was mentioned many times during the meeting. The Presidency and several delegations explicitly asked Commissioner Gabriel to table the Communication as soon as possible in autumn, in order to enable a structured debate on the future ERA that is only possible if both the Member States and the Commission fully engage in it. The Commissioner promised to do her best and to contribute to the goal of adopting Council Conclusions on the future of ERA in November.
In general, the meeting showed a strong will from Member States and Commission to strengthen European collaboration in R&I in the EU on the basis of a renewed and more effective governance. Based on input papers from the Presidency, Ministers discussed initiatives for green hydrogen, resilience and pandemic preparedness, and European citizen science campaigns. An “R&I driven Initiative on green hydrogen” received strong support. Ministers agreed that it should start with a mapping of the current potential in Europe. It was said several times - and not only by cohesion countries - that inclusiveness must be a core principle of the new ERA and no region should be left behind. Nonetheless, it was proposed to make a a quick start with those MS who are already prepared, especially for the hydrogen initiative.
The meeting was organised in an innovative format with an interactive tool (Slido) to visualise opinions/preferences of Member States, short sessions with a limited number of speakers, and short timeslots for interventions, films and key-note speeches. The format appeared much more attractive for a videoconference of Ministers than the usual round-table format and could serve as a model for future informal videoconferences.