Happy New Year and welcome back to this monthly newsletter with the latest updates from across my portfolio as European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. I hope that you were all able to take some time to rest over the holidays. In this issue I will share some updates from our December activities as well as what we have in store for the year ahead.
On 6 December the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement to make 2022 the European Year of Youth. I once again want to thank the co-legislators for having found an agreement in a record time. We all understand the importance of putting young people in the spotlight and celebrate their resilience after two very challenging years. I reiterated this message in the plenary debate on the European Year of Youth 2022 in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 14 December. I invite all young Europeans to participate in the upcoming European Year of Youth and make their voice heard.
On 9 December, I hosted the Fourth European Education Summit which was attended by President von der Leyen, Vice-President Schinas, Commissioners Schmit, Sinkevičius and Urpilainen; Sabine Verheyen MEP, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education, and Victor Negrescu MEP, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education; ministers of education; and members of the wider education community. It was the moment for the wider education and training community to take stock and jointly reflect on the future of the sector, with a view of establishing the European Education Area by 2025. In my opening speech, I recalled that our future education systems must be inclusive, digital and sustainable. They must be able to offer high-quality education and training to everybody.
If researchers are able to achieve great results it’s because they start by being curious, and ready to engage their talent and energy to uncover the scientific “mysteries”. It is the irresistible attraction to know more and to understand better the world surrounding us. I was pleased to talk to Horizon Magazine about the incredible advancements made by scientists and the EU's commitment to creating more tech unicorns.
I am happy to announce that the Commission has signed agreements for closer cooperation in research and innovation with the Western Balkans - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia - as well as with Georgia, Armenia and Israel. For the period 2021-2027, they have been granted association status to Horizon Europe, Europe’s €95.5 billion research and innovation programme. I am very pleased that we have moved forward with our association agreements with many more partners. Association to Horizon Europe is of mutual benefit, for the EU and for our partners, enabling tighter cooperation to boost our green and digital agendas, as well as to attract investment in research and innovation and create jobs and growth. More information is available here.
On 10 December, I presented, alongside Vice-President Schinas and Commissioner Schmit, the Commission proposals for Council Recommendations on individual learning accounts and on micro-credentials. The success of both the digital and green transitions depends on workers with the right skills. The European approach to micro-credentials will facilitate the recognition and validation of these learning experiences. It will strengthen the role of higher education, vocational education and training institutions in making lifelong learning a reality across the EU, and foster their accessibility to a more diverse group of learners. The European approach to micro-credentials is a key flagship to achieve a European Education Area by 2025. They can be part of the learning offer included in individual learning accounts.
Finally, I invite you to take a look at the highlights and impressive numbers from the EIC Summit in November. It brought together more than 2300 participants onsite and online and the programme of the event included 40 engaging and informative sessions with the contribution of 200 high-level and inspiring speakers.
Best wishes for the year ahead,