News archive - EU Competitiveness Council to debate Horizon 2020 and other topics related to the European Research Area

The EU Competitiveness Council met in Luxembourg on Wednesday, 10 and Thursday, 11 October chaired by Mr Stavros Malas, Cyprus Minister for Health (responsible for the Research portfolio) and Mr Neoklis Sylikiotis, Cyprus Minister for Commerce, Industry and Tourism.

The Council disscussed the main elements of the rules of participation in projects funded under "Horizon 2020", the next research and innovation framework programme for the years 2014-2020, and the modalities to integrate the European Institute of Innovation and Technology into the Horizon 2020 programme. Furthermore, it debated on the next steps towards the completion and implementation of the European Research Area and on reinforcing the European industrial policy and its contribution to growth and economic recovery. Further topics included key enabling technologies, which are of particular importance for the innovativeness and competitiveness of industry, including in areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and advanced materials and the European innovation partnership for raw materials.

Further information: EC Europa 


Horizon 2020 – rules for participation

The Council seeked to reach a partial general approach (provisional agreement pending adoption of European Parliament's opinion) on the rules for participation and dissemination in Horizon 2020, the EU's future funding programme for research and innovation from 2014. This follows the PGA reached earlier in the year on the main Horizon 2020 Regulation. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn insisted on need for coherence and simplification by having single rules applying throughout Horizon 2020, including for so-called 'Article 185' and 'Article 187' initiatives. The second critical aspect is to ensure a radical simplification by achieving a single flat rate for indirect costs.

Although formally speaking the Commission is maintaining its original proposal at this stage, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn encouraged ministers to reach an agreement. This is important in view of the November European Council, which will discuss the next EU budget. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn emphasised that the full proposed budget of €80 billion is required for Horizon 2020, in order to support the best science, make European industry more competitive and tackle challenges such as healthcare and climate change.

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The European Institute of Innovation and Technology

The Council seeked to reach a partial general approach (provisional agreement pending adoption of European Parliament's opinion) on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The EIT was established in 2008 to promote the competitiveness of Member States by bringing together excellent higher education institutions, research centres and businesses to focus on major societal challenges. The EIT operates through Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) which bring together 80-100 partners from the different parts of the innovation chain. Three KICs were launched in 2010 in the areas of climate change (Climate KIC), Information and Communication Technologies (EIT ICT Labs) and sustainable energy (KIC InnoEnergy).

The Commission has put forward two proposals concerning the EIT: a Strategic Innovation Agenda which outlines its priorities for the future and an amended EIT Regulation focusing on its consolidation and expansion. The EIT plans to add six new KICs in two phases (Phase 1: Healthy Living, Food for the Future and Raw Material; Phase 2: Added-Value Manufacturing, Urban Mobility, Safe and Secure Societies. The Commission has proposed a budget of € 3.2 billion for the EIT in 2014-2020 (see IP/11/1479)

Open access to scientific Information

Vice President Neelie Kroes presented European Commission proposals on open access to scientific information. In July 2012 the Commission presented a Communication that sets out open access policy for research funded by the Commission through "Horizon 2020" and a Recommendation outlining a complete policy framework for improving access to, and preservation of, scientific information. (IP/12/790 and MEMO/12/565)

Open access gives readers free access to research results over the Internet, without having to pay subscriptions to scientific journals. Broader and more rapid access to scientific papers and data will make it easier for researchers and businesses to build on the findings of public-funded research. This will boost Europe's innovation capacity and give citizens quicker access to the benefits of scientific discoveries.

The Commission has established Open access as a general principle for Horizon 2020. As of 2014, all articles produced with EU funding will have to be made accessible immediately online by the publisher ('gold' open access) or in an open access repository after a 6 or 12 month delay ('green' open access). The Commission has called on Member States to establish policies on open access, on preservation and on e-infrastructures by 2014. The goal is for 60% of all publicly-funded scientific articles in Europe to be available under open access by 2016.

European Research Area

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn presented to the Council the Communication on a reinforced European Research Area - Partnership for Excellence and Growth (IP/12/788). The presentation was followed by a debate. On the basis of the positions taken by Member States, the Cypriot Presidency proposed Conclusions to the December Council.

The goal of the European Research Area Communication is to create the conditions for researchers, research institutions and businesses to better move, compete and co-operate across borders. This will strengthen Member States' research bases, increase their competitiveness and allow them to work together more effectively to tackle major societal challenges. The proposals are a response to the deadline set by EU leaders to make the European Research Area a reality by 2014.

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International cooperation in research and innovation

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn also presented the recently adopted Communication 'Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation: a strategic approach' (IP/12/967). An exchange of views is foreseen at the next Competitiveness Council in December.

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The Council also discussed industrial policy in a broader sense, but some additional points on the agenda of interest in relation to science / research / innovation were:

Council Conclusions on Key Enabling Technologies and the Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials

In the presence of Vice-President Tajani ministers were invited to adopt Council Conclusions on Key Enabling Technologies and the Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials.

On 26 June 2012, the European Commission adopted VP Tajani's proposal for an action plan to boost the industrial production of KETs-based products in the EU, e.g. innovative products and applications of the future. The Commission Communication 'A European strategy for Key Enabling Technologies - A bridge to growth and jobs' outlines a single strategy for KETs to allow maximum exploitation of the EU's potential in competitive markets, aiming to keep pace with the EU's main international competitors, restore growth in Europe and create jobs in industry, and at the same time addressing today's major societal challenges.

As a matter of fact, Europe is a global leader in KETs research and development with a global share in patent applications of more than 30%. Despite this, the EU is not translating its dominant R&D base into the production of goods and services needed to stimulate growth and jobs.

Vice-President Tajani welcomes the enhanced support of the Member States to the EU KETs policy and regards it as a condition for success. Vice-President Tajani provided his views on the draft Council Conclusions presented by the Cyprus Presidency.

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Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials

In view of the increasing pressure on the supply of raw materials, the Commission has called Member States, companies and researchers to join forces and develop innovation in the different raw materials sectors. Innovative solutions to better explore, extract and process raw materials, as well as efforts to support improved collecting, sorting and recycling will contribute to provide a wider range of raw materials sources, thereby reducing the import dependence of the EU, improving the competitiveness of its industry and increasing resource efficiency. Finding substitutes will also be part of the answer in the case of certain critical or scarce raw materials.

This is the idea behind the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials, proposed by the Commission in February 2012. The Competitiveness Council was invited on 11 October to endorse the launch of the Partnership, in order to start developing its Strategic Implementation Plan.

A High Level Conference will kick-off the work on 13 November 2012, in Brussels, which will be structured around 5 work packages addressing both the technological and regulatory/market challenges ahead. The Strategic Implementation Plan is expected to be adopted by mid-2013.

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Geographical focus
  • Europe
  • European Union (EU 28)
  • FP7
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • General

Entry created by Elke Dall on October 9, 2012
Modified on October 16, 2012