The Guild’s General Assembly convened online to discuss priorities for the European Research Area
On 23 October, Presidents of The Guild met for the second General Assembly of 2020. The participants had the opportunity to exchange views with Jean-Eric Paquet (Director-General, DG RTD) and Jean-Pierre Bourguignon (Interim President of the ERC) on Horizon Europe and on the role of research post-pandemic, as negotiations on the budget of Europe’s flagship programme resume between the European Parliament and the Council.
Jean-Eric Paquet, Director-General of the European Commission’s DG for Research and Innovation, opened the day with a presentation on the role of research and innovation in the post-pandemic recovery. Amid a policy debate that will be decisive for the coming decade of European research, Presidents discussed the new strategy for the European Research Area (ERA) and the key role that EU institutions play in framing and incentivising scientific investments at Member-State level.
Furthermore, Presidents shared their concerns regarding the association of third countries to Horizon Europe, and particularly the conditionalities regarding the UK and Switzerland, recalling the importance of reaching an agreement as soon as possible to secure ongoing scientific cooperation. The participants also stressed the need to achieve a balance between investments in fundamental and applied research, at times when the lack of preparedness to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic has proven the importance of having a strong knowledge base, ready to be mobilised in times of crisis.
Presidents of The Guild were also joined by Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, interim President of the European Research Council. The role of breakthrough science and its pivotal contribution to Europe’s resilience was at the core of discussions, with Presidents expressing concern over the stagnating budget proposed for the Excellent Science Pillar of Horizon Europe. In the current context, presidents unanimously emphasised the need for increased investments in fundamental research and the unique opportunity that Member-States have to mobilise funds for research from the European recovery instrument.
Moreover, Presidents reflected on The Guild’s priorities for the ERA, in particular with regard to research careers and assessment, as well as gender and diversity in higher education. Professor Jo Angouri was also invited to present her insights on research-led education in a digital age, based on her experience as Academic Director for Education and Internationalisation at the University of Warwick. With universities having just started the academic year, the second coronavirus outbreak was a key topic of discussion throughout the day. Breakout sessions allowed Presidents to exchange best practices on the management of the pandemic as well as strategies to mitigate its impact on students, researchers and staff.
”It has become clear that fundamental research is at the core of Europe’s ability to overcome the pandemic: we need increased investments in excellent research” #EUbudget— European Research Council (ERC) (@ERC_Research) October 23, 2020
Thank you @guildeu and @janpalmowski for your support and today’s important discussion! https://t.co/YoDBobUaCj