Innovation and Research was featured heavily during the debates in the last meeting of the European Council’s Competitiveness (Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space) Council, that took place on 20 and 21 February 2014 in Brussels.
One of the items debated was the Conclusions on the progress made towards the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA) (6353/14). Following the first report on the progress towards the implementation of the European Research Area (ERA), expected to reinforce excellence for research across Europe, increasing Europe’s global competitiveness and its capability to tackle major societal challenges successfully, the Council adopted conclusions on the key elements that will contribute to the completion of the ERA. Amongst others, the following priorities were identified:
The Innovation investment package, which includes, amongst other private and public partnerships, the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership 2 (EDCTP2) and the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (IMI 2), was also on the agenda. The presidency informed the Council of the progress of the ongoing negotiations with a view to launching private and public partnerships for research and innovation, on the day after the last round of negotiations with the European Parliament, where both parties undertook to take the work forward in order to finalise the legislative process as soon as possible.
The debate on the Commission’s Annual Growth Survey (AGS), focused on the measures that, under the remit of the Competitiveness Council, can improve economic performance and create added value in both the short and long term. It needs to be remembered that the AGS, published in November 2013, explicitly recognised that health care services is a particular areas that will generate significant job opportunities in the years to come.
Most importantly, the delegations outlined the need to keep investments in research and innovation at an appropriate level as this will contribute to the alleviation of societal problems. Many drew attention to a number of areas hindering Europe’s ability to translate research progress into innovative goods and services: difficulties in accessing finance, market barriers and excessive red tape. Accelerating the modernisation of national research systems in line with the objectives of the European Research Area was identified as a priority.
It is positive for researchers that despite severe budgetary constraints and hard fought negotiations on Horizon 2020, that research and innovation remains high on the agenda of the European Council.
The outcome of the debate will serve as basis for the preparation for the spring European Council on 20 and 21 March.
More information available here.