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Commissioner’s monthly update

June 2021

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Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Good morning,

I am happy to announce that the Commission has adopted a Communication on its Global Approach to Research and Innovation, Europe’s strategy for international cooperation in a changing world.

With this new strategy, the EU aims to take a leading role in supporting international research and innovation partnerships, and to deliver innovative solutions to make our societies green, digital and healthy.

To make sure that this openness works, and that researchers can cooperate across borders as easily as possible, we do not only need support from major funders like the EU, but also a clear framework that creates a level playing field on issues like ethical and people-centred research, the fair treatment of intellectual property and reciprocal access to research programmes. We will actively engage with partners who share these values and principles.

I took part in a skills and innovation workshop at the Porto Social Summit on 7 May, a key event of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU. Attended by various Heads of State and government, social partners and Commission colleagues, the Summit gave political impetus to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and its action plan. I emphasised the need for a holistic approach at all stages of education, and the importance of equipping EU citizens with the skills they need for career development, mobility, personal growth and resilience. I also highlighted some concrete actions that can help us achieve this, such as the Erasmus+ Teacher Academies, the promotion of women’s participation in STEM and the European Universities initiative. There was wide consensus that investment in education and skills is essential to prepare Europe to face the challenges of the future.

On 12 May, the Council of the European Union adopted the Regulation establishing the Euratom Research and Training Programme for 2021-2025. The newly adopted Euratom Programme will complement Horizon Europe. It will support research and innovation in areas such as cancer treatment and diagnostics, nuclear safety and fusion. Thanks to Euratom, Europe will maintain world leadership in fusion, nuclear safety, radiation protection, waste management and decommissioning, safeguards and security with the highest level of standards.

I organised, together with the Portuguese Presidency of the EU and the European Parliament, a High-level Nuclear Roundtable with major representatives of nuclear industry and research organisations on the same day. This event was an opportunity to explore the potential of future research and innovation, to increase synergies between nuclear and other sectors, as well as to find joint solutions for attracting and retaining talents in the nuclear sector, so it can contribute to tackling Europe's challenges.

On behalf of the EU and together with ministers from 25 countries, I signed the 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial Joint Statement on 9 May. Climate change is happening faster in the Arctic region, with consequences for sea-level rise and weather patterns that affect the whole planet. Arctic science is therefore an essential area of global responsibility. The Joint Statement signed today shows our collective willingness to join forces in support and commitment to Arctic research and innovation.

On 19 May, I hosted a roundtable with European industry leaders to discuss the importance of research and innovation for the EU’s hydrogen strategy. The European Commission is inviting stakeholders, in Europe and beyond, to accelerate research and innovation in the development of a global clean hydrogen economy, for achieving the targets of the European Green Deal. Cooperation in research and innovation holds the keys to this paradigm shift, and Horizon Europe will spearhead the transition through the launch of a new public-private partnership on Clean Hydrogen and a European Research Area Pilot on hydrogen.

On 28 May, I participated in the Competitiveness Council for Research and Innovation where we received support from Ministers on the European high performance computing partnership, our global approach to research and innovation and our plans for an ambitious European Research Area as cornerstones of the European knowledge society and key to tackle our environmental and social challenges.

I was very happy to launch the Commission Expert Group on quality investment in education and training with a first meeting of members on 4 May. The 15 outstanding experts from across Europe that make up the Group will support the EU and Member States to take effective funding decisions in the education and training sectors during these challenging times.

On 17 and 18 May, I joined European ministers in the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council meeting. The recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and cooperation towards a more resilient, inclusive, and digital future were on the agenda of this two-day meeting, during which several Council conclusions were adopted. We discussed how to support the green and digital transitions, promote innovation, and foster European exchange in their respective policy areas.

Discussions focused on equity and inclusion in education and training, youth participation in decision-making processes, the recovery and sustainability of the creative sector, and sport innovation and diplomacy. I stressed the importance of equity and inclusion as cornerstones of the European Education Area , as well as the need to work together with Member States and stakeholders for the co-creation of a European Strategy for Universities. I also took the opportunity to present a number of actions in support of these goals, from the HealthyLifestyle4All initiative that will be launched in September 2021, to the future EU Youth Coordinator and the launch of a website on EU financing for creative and cultural sectors.

I am happy that the European Parliament adopted three important programmes on 19 May: Erasmus+, Creative Europe and European Solidarity Corps, following constructive plenary debates. The programmes will create opportunities for millions of people, contribute to a green, digital and inclusive Europe, and support our recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. I already opened the first call for proposals for Erasmus+ on 25 March, which is still open for applications.

On the occasion of Europe Day on 9 May, an inaugural event took place to welcome the Conference on the Future of Europe. These festivities followed the launch of the multilingual digital platform on 19 April – a milestone for the Conference, which aims to empower citizens and civil society to have a greater say. The Platform is an interactive tool through which you can share ideas, find events, and follow the Conference’s progress and outcomes in your own language.

Education, Culture, Youth and Sport are among the main priorities of the Conference. I therefore warmly invite all of you to share your ideas and participate in upcoming events and I look forward to inspiring discussions on how to shape our future actions and policies in these fields.

I also welcome the Advisory Group on African-European Research and Innovation Cooperation launched last month.

The group will work until October 2021 and present four evidence-based policy papers showcasing recommendations on how to improve research and innovation strategies as part of a positive agenda between Africa and Europe.

I was pleased to appoint two new members to the Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (GCSA) for the next three years. Professor Eva Zažímalová and Professor Eric F. Lambin were nominated by European Research Organisations and selected by an independent Identification Committee, and will replace Professor Carina Keskitalo and Sir Paul Nurse, whose mandates ended on 15 May 2021.

On 26 May, I launched the new Creative Europe programme (2021-2027), following its adoption in the European Parliament earlier in the month. Over the next seven years, the new programme will support the cultural and creative sectors in Europe with a budget of €2.4 billion. With this significantly increased budget, Creative Europe will strive to reinforce the resilience and recovery of the cultural and creative sectors while promoting the immense diversity and creativity that they offer us. The programme aims to increase the competitiveness of cultural sectors and will support their efforts to become greener, more digital and more inclusive. To that end, all funded actions and projects should respect gender equality and the EU's environmental commitments in the design and implementation of their activities.

In 2021, Creative Europe will allocate an unprecedented budget of around €300 million to help professionals and artists from all cultural sectors to collaborate across disciplines and borders, in order to find more opportunities and to reach new audiences. Today’s adoption of the 2021 annual work programme lays the foundations for the first calls for proposals under the new programme. I invite all organisations active in the relevant cultural and creative sectors to apply.

The New European Bauhaus initiative continues taking shape. I was happy to discuss how we want to live together after the pandemic and the intiative's role in the EU wide recovery of our economies, our societies and our planet, at a European Economic Congress event on 24 May. Applications for the first New European Bauhaus prizes closed on 31 May and eligible entries will be open to a public vote soon. Sign up for the New European Bauhaus newsletter so you do not miss the opportunity to see the entries and decide on your favourites!

Finally, I extend my warm congratulations to Professor Inga Berre, the 10,000th researcher to be awarded a European Research Council grant. On 6 May, we celebrated all 10,000 ERC grantees. These bright minds from Europe and beyond are pushing the boundaries of our knowledge and providing fundamental research to help us address not only today’s, but also future challenges that are yet unknown.

With best wishes for the month ahead,

Mariya Gabriel

My portfolio updates
Europe’s global approach to cooperation in research and innovation: strategic, open, and reciprocal

On 18 May, the Commission adopted a Communication on its Global Approach to Research and Innovation, Europe’s strategy for international cooperation in a changing world. With this new strategy, the EU aims to take a leading role in supporting international research and innovation partnerships, and to deliver innovative solutions to make our societies green, digital and healthy.

Excellent research needs the best minds from all over the world to work together. It is a strategic priority for the EU. Yet international cooperation in research and innovation is taking place in a transformed global landscape, where geopolitical tensions are rising and human rights and fundamental values are being challenged. The EU’s response is to lead by example, promoting multilateralism, openness and reciprocity in its cooperation with the rest of the world. The EU will facilitate global responses to global challenges, such as climate change or pandemics, respecting international rules and fundamental EU values and strengthening its open strategic autonomy.

More information is available in this factsheet.

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EU adopts Euratom Research and Training Programme

On 12 May the Council of the European Union adopted the the Regulation establishing the Euratom Research and Training Programme for 2021-2025. The programme has a budget of EUR 1 382 million and will contribute to fusion and fission research, support European’s Beating Cancer Plan and strengthen Europe’s nuclear expertise and competences. The Programme will contribute to the implementation of the European Research Roadmap to the realisation of Fusion Energy, which represents a long-term option for large scale, low carbon electricity production.

More information is available in this factsheet.

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The European Union and 25 countries sign Joint Statement to strengthen Arctic science cooperation

On 9 May, Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, together with ministers from 25 countries signed the 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial Joint Statement. The third Arctic Science Ministerial Meeting (ASM3) entitled “Knowledge for a sustainable Arctic”, was co-organised by the governments of Japan and Iceland and took place on 8 and 9 May, in Tokyo and also virtually. Commissioner Mariya Gabriel signed the Joint Statement on behalf of the European Union. This third edition highlighted and consolidated the leading role of the EU on Arctic science.

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First meeting of the Expert Group on investment in education

On 4 May, Commissioner Gabriel launched the Expert Group on quality investment in education and training and opened their first meeting. The group of 15 outstanding academics and education experts will provide more clarity and solid evidence on how to best invest in education and training to achieve the European Education Area. Their advice will help the Commission and Member States to find innovative and smart solutions to educational challenges in post-COVID-19 times. Well-designed and targeted investment in education and training is indispensable to build stronger, resilient and more equitable educational and training systems across the EU.

Over the next months, the expert group will work on the three main areas that represent the bulk of the education expenditure: teachers and trainers, education infrastructure, and digital education. The Commission will publish a first report on this important work by the end of this year.

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EU-Japan policy dialogue on education, culture and sports
On 10 May, Commissioner Gabriel met with the Japanese Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Mr Koichi Hagiuda, for a high-level policy dialogue to discuss EU-Japan cooperation in the fields of education, culture and sports. Both sides confirmed their continued commitment to cooperation and support from their respective programmes, and agreed to new cooperation on researcher mobility. Moreover, Commissioner Gabriel and Minister Hagiuda welcomed the progress of the three special joint EU-Japan Erasmus Mundus Master programmes in robotics, extended reality, and history, which were launched as an outcome of the first policy dialogue in July 2018. Commissioner Gabriel moreover expressed her admiration for the organisers of the Tokyo Olympic Games and underlined that sport can bring people together in these times of crisis.
Conference on Culture, Cohesion and Social Impact
Commissioner Gabriel opened the Conference on Culture, Cohesion and Social Impact, organised by the Portuguese Presidency on 5 May. The Commissioner emphasised culture’s potential to promote a more inclusive society and reiterated her commitment to address gender gaps, stereotypes and instances of sexual violence in the cultural sector. The Commission’s flagship programme Creative Europe reflects this commitment, supporting projects that directly address gender equality and promoting women’s visibility in culture. With substantially increased funding, the new programme will continue to promote social cohesion, intercultural dialogue and gender equality in the cultural sector.
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Launch of Western Balkans Cultural Cooperation Projects
On 19 May, Commissioner Gabriel took part in the official launch of 13 cultural cooperation projects between the EU and the Western Balkans, where she was joined by Commissioner Várhely. Selected under a special Call and supported by €5 million from DG NEAR, these projects play an important role in strengthening cultural cooperation between the EU Member States and the Western Balkans. Tackling cross-cutting issues, from gender equality to the environment and migration, they will bring together diverse cultures and create lasting change. Commissioner Gabriel was happy to extend the cultural cooperation between the EU and the Western Balkans.

The new Creative Europe programme will promote European cultural heritage and support cultural sectors in the region to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. On a political level, the Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport will provide a forum to discuss the region’s needs and priorities. The cultural sphere is key to bringing people together and enhancing our mutual understanding, and these projects are a crucial step in this process.

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European Youth Week brings together young people across Europe

The European Youth Week, which took place from 24-30 May, hosted numerous inspiring sessions across Europe, focussing on the theme “Our future in our hands.” The European Youth Week aims to foster youth participation by engaging, connecting and empowering young people and creating a space to learn more about EU opportunities in the field of youth. Commissioner Gabriel took part in various events throughout the week and responded to young people’s questions on how the new Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes will create more opportunities for youth and boost Europe’s recovery.

During the panel debate “Youth Participation starts here”, on 26 May, Commissioner Gabriel was joined by Michaela Šojdrová, Member of the European Parliament, the Vice-President of the European Youth Forum, as well as a former European Solidarity Corps volunteer to discuss how the new programmes can strengthen young citizens' engagement in decision-making, embrace inclusion and diversity, and strengthen the green and digital transformations.

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EU Prize for Literature celebrates outstanding new literary talents

Commissioner Gabriel congratulated the 13 laureates of the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) 2021 on 19 May, together with Graça Fonseca, Minister of Culture of Portugal. The award, which is co-financed by the Creative Europe programme, recognises emerging fictions writers from the European Union and beyond, promotes the circulation and translation of literature, and highlights the richness and diversity of contemporary literature. Across a cycle of three years, the EUPL includes 41 countries participating in Creative Europe and awards one winning author per country.

The 2021 laureate of each country this year was selected by a national jury, made up of experts in the fields of literature, publishing and bookselling. This year’s winners come from Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Iceland, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and Tunisia.

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Commissioner congratulates Digital Education Hackathon winners at Presidency event

On 24 May, Commissioner Gabriel participated in the Portuguese Presidency event “Digital Education: To Engage, To Care, To Foster. Digital Education Shaping Today’s and Tomorrow’s Societies.”

At this occasion, she congratulated the winning teams of the Digital Education Hackathon 2020. The winning projects tackled challenges of education and training in the digital age: the development of practical skills for remote and distance learning, the importance of addressing skills gaps, and teaching sexual education through digital technologies. The Digital Education Hackathon 2021, hosted by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, will take place on 9-10 November 2021. Following the awarding ceremony, the Commissioner kicked off the Ministerial Roundtable, underlining that high quality and inclusive digital education is a political priority for the Commission. For the Digital Education Action Plan to bear fruit, close cooperation and dialogue with the Member States is vital and this event was an important step to make high quality digital education a reality for everyone across Europe.

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Winners of the European Heritage/Europa Nostra awards announced

Commissioner Gabriel announced the winners of the European Heritage Awards/Europa Nostra Awards on 25 May. The Awards, launched by the Commission in 2002, promote best practices related to heritage conservation, management, research, education and communication. The Commissioner emphasised that the success of the preservation and valorisation of our tangible and intangible heritage depends on the engagement of the people behind it. This year’s 24 laureates, coming from 18 different European countries, act as powerful examples of social responsibility and determination to safeguard our cultural heritage.

Many of the award winning projects demonstrate that cultural heritage can become a cornerstone for sustainable development and help to build a greener world, contributing to the objective of the European Green Deal and the new strategy on adaptation to climate change. Until 5 September, the public can vote online for their favourite initiative, which will be awarded with the Public Choice Award.

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Cultural Heritage in Action: peer-learning visits until the end of June

Last month, Cultural Heritage in Action hosted several online peer-learning visits focusing on how to successfully integrate cultural heritage in local policies and actions. Financed by Creative Europe, this peer-learning scheme brings together local and regional authorities and stakeholders thus creating a broad learning community. During the visits experts, decision makers and stakeholders explored the successful practices and local context in a city or region and discussed challenges and barriers in supporting cultural heritage. The visits started in late March and will continue until the end of June. This week, participants are exploring Šibenik, Croatia; upcoming visits will feature Nantes, France, and Reggio Emilia, Italy. The selected cities and regions are also featured in the catalogue of good practices to strengthen cultural heritage policies and initiatives.

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New handbook to support the development of European nature restoration targets

On World Bee Day, the Joint Research Centre published a summary for policy makers of the first EU–wide ecosystem assessment.

The report provides science-based advice on restoring degraded ecosystems, improving the monitoring of their health, and defining methods to assess their condition.

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2021 EU Blue Economy report: Emerging sectors prepare blue economy for leading part in EU green transition

The European Commission has published the fourth edition of “The EU Blue Economy Report”, a joint collaboration between the European Commission’s department for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) and the Joint Research Centre.

It provides an overview of the performance of the EU-27 economic sectors related to oceans and the coastal environment. The sector directly employed close to 4.5 million people in 2018 and generated around €650 billion in turnover and €176 billion in gross value added.

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Calls and collaborations
Ethical Guidelines on Artificial Intelligence and Data Usage for Educators
The Commission is working on developing ethical guidelines on Artificial Intelligence and data usage for educators through the Digital Education Action Plan. An informal expert group on AI and data in education and training will inform the preparation of the guidelines. Following a mapping undertaken in the last few months, a call for applications for experts was launched on 23 April and closed on 25 May. Work is ongoing to finalise the selection process and prepare for the kick-off meeting. The expert group will meet regularly in the next 18 months. Its first meeting is scheduled for 8 July 2021 and will see the participation of Commissioner Gabriel. The group will then meet in the autumn and produce a report by the end of the year. All these activities will allow to finalise the guidelines by September 2022, when they will be presented in the context of the “Back to school” campaign.
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COVID-19 Therapeutics Strategy - announcement of €90 million booster call under Horizon Europe

As announced on 17 February 2021, the Commission has mobilised an additional €90 million under Horizon Europe. The funding will support vaccine and therapeutic trials to boost prevention and treatment. It will also support the development of large-scale, COVID-19- related population studies on particular groups, and foster the spread of networks outside Europe.

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New European Bauhaus prizes: sign up to vote for your favourite projects

The first New European Bauhaus prizes, will celebrate inspiring examples across ten prize categories – from 'products and lifestyle', to ‘reinvented places to meet and share’ - all themed around the core pillars of the initiative: sustainability, quality of experience, and inclusion.

Entries closed on 31 May. Eligible entries will soon be open to a vote among all New European Bauhaus newsletter subscribers. A jury made up of New European Bauhaus official partner organisations will then assess the three projects with the most votes under each category and strand before the prizes are awarded.

Sign up for the newsletter to see the entries and decide on your favourites!

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Erasmus+ calls open for submission
The Erasmus+ calls are open for submission!

The new programme for 2021-2027 will continue to build on its successful and broad experience focusing on three horizontal priorities: inclusion and diversity, digital transformation, environmental sustainability. Erasmus+ offers opportunities for individuals to spend a mobility period abroad and to receive linguistic training as well as for organisations to collaborate in project partnerships in the fields of academic and vocational training, schools, adult learning, youth and European sport events.

Find out more and submit your applications online.
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Pilot project and preparatory actions in sport: apply now
The Commission has published three calls for proposals in the field of sport:

1. The Pilot Project Building investigative capacity to better fight doping in sport in Europe aims to develop systematic capabilities to reduce doping in sport, improve investigation ability and maximise the health benefits of clean sport for European youth.

2. The Preparatory Action Sport as a tool for integration and social inclusion of refugees will promote European integration and inclusion by the direct engagement of refugees and host communities through sport.

3. The Preparatory Action Grassroots sport programmes and infrastructure innovation will help organisations to develop new, modern forms of sport and physical activity, communicate their benefits and develop light sport facilities.

The calls will be managed directly by the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). You can apply until 16 June 2021.

Upcoming calls and events
Registration now open for R&I Days

Registrations are now open for the Research and Innovation Days 2021! The event will take place online on 23 and 24 June, and it will showcase over 60 live sessions covering a wide range of R&I topics, including:

Horizon Europe, the European Research Area, the European Innovation Ecosystems, and in-depth discussions around EU priories such as the digital advent, the post-covid recovery and others. Explore the event programme and start shaping your own experience by browsing through sessions and specialised workshops you can attend during the event. Make your selection and get ready to discuss about the most compelling research and innovation themes with panellists and fellow attendees from across Europe and beyond. The European R&I Exhibition, will showcase over 100 EU-funded projects that have impacted on our daily lives! Register here!

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Upcoming: Adoption of the main Horizon Europe Work Programme

Our main Horizon Europe Work Programme will soon be adopted. It describes the general rules, admissibility conditions and eligibility criteria of the new EU research and innovation programme and announces the calls for proposals, their overall objectives, and the topics within each call.

Funding opportunities listed in the Work Programme will become immediately available on the Funding and Tenders Portal, where prospective applicants can apply for funding. Researchers, scientists and innovators are encouraged to already explore the programme as well as to participate in this year’s European Research and Innovation Days.

Erasmus+ Alliances for Innovation 2021: call and info session
An information session on the new Erasmus+ action “Alliances for Innovation” will take place on 8 June, from 14.00-17.00.

Alliances for Innovation aim to strengthen Europe’s innovation capacity through cooperation and flow of knowledge among higher education, vocational education and training, and the broader socio-economic environment, including research.

Join the info session online to learn more about the policy context, new funding opportunities, and new submission processes. There is no need for prior registration to the event.

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