“Co-creation” - the word that best describes Horizon Europe. We must create and develop our policies together. Like this we will be stronger when facing challenges and more successful when opportunities arrive.
Commissioner Mariya Gabriel
On 31 January 2020, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel participated in a Citizens' Dialogue at Hotel Balkan, in Sofia (Bulgaria). Stage partner of Commissioner Gabriel was Dr Lachezar Filchev from the Space Research and Technology Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Science (SRTIBAS) in his position of a Board Member of Horizon Europe Mission on Soil Health and Food.
The event in Sofia was part of a series of Citizens' Dialogues that involve the whole European Commission and take place in all EU Member States.
The dialogue was held in a relatively positive atmosphere with very specific and up to the point questions and comments from the audience. The audience included researchers, scientists, University representatives and representatives of the European information networks in Bulgaria.
During a brief opening speech, Commissioner Gabriel gave an overview of her portfolio, the challenge of managing three DGs and her ambitious projects, regarding higher education in the EU, Horizon Europe and ERASMUS.
She put a special attention on the missions under Horizon Europe, the ambition to complete the European Education Area, urging for Bulgarian participation, the novelty of a green ERASMUS and the Europe Enterprise Network.
Dr Filchev touched upon his work as a Board Member of Horizon Europe and the daily challenges of advancing the Bulgarian participation.
Questions from the audience addressed a large list of topics linked to financing, technical issues and bureaucracy. Many participants expressed concerns about the technical challenges and bureaucracy in applying for funds in the area of Research and Innovation.
Others expressed expectations that European Regional Development Fund could be used to finance science and innovation infrastructure. Commissioner Gabriel emphasized the need for more transparency of the funding procedure and the need for larger participation of the so called EU13 countries.
Some of participants brought up the question of the Seal of Excellence, InnovFin and the need for more accessible information about EU research programs.
One of the participants brought up the question of brain drain and the Bulgarian priorities under Horizon Europe.Commissioner Gabriel firmly stated that measures are already taken, preventing “brain drain”, and we should start talking about “brain gain” instead.
The Citizens' Dialogue ended on a positive note, asking both stage partners to name a work that best describes Horizon Europe. For Commissioner Gabriel this was the word “co-creation” and for Dr Filchev, “transparency”.