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Commissioner’s monthly update

January 2022

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

Good morning,

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,

Mariya Gabriel

My portfolio updates
EU Research and Innovation Days report

EU research and innovation are key for obtaining a sustainable future, especially in tackling climate change, fighting cancer and protecting our ocean and waters. This is the main conclusion from the 21,000 participants and 200 high-level speakers who took part in the 2021 European Research and Innovation Days, according to the Commission’s conference report published on 13 December. The report contains summaries and quotes from the event’s 70 online live sessions and workshops, as well as from over 200 consultations between participants and Commission representatives at the virtual Horizon Village.

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Erasmus+ annual report
On 16 December, the Commission published the 2020 Erasmus+ annual report, which revealed the great uptake of the programme in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Erasmus+ supported almost 640,000 learning experiences abroad last year and provided funding to 20,400 projects and 126,900 organisations. In 2020, the total budget of Erasmus+ amounted to €3.78 billion - €506 million more than 2019, an increase of 15%. After 33 years of implementation, Erasmus+ remains resilient, even in the challenging context of 2020, supporting a cumulative total of 11.7 million participants since its launch in 1987.
A new tool to monitor childhood cancer in Europe

The Knowledge Centre on Cancer launched a new section of the European Cancer Information System (ECIS), with indicators on the extent and types of cancers affecting children in Europe. By supporting the uptake of knowledge about cancer, the Knowledge Centre contributes to the Horizon Europe Mission on Cancer to achieve by 2030, more than 3 million lives saved, living longer and better.

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Research, innovation and the EU Green Deal

Research & innovation are key drivers in developing solutions & technologies we need for a clean planet. Check out the factsheet on solutions for a healthy planet & learn about EU's climate neutrality & green mobility!

Read the Green Deal factsheets here.

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Several EU-funded scientists win Nobel Prizes

During the Nobel week 6-10 December, the spotlight was on this year’s laureates, of which several were EU-funded scientists. Two were supported for a decade with substantial individual grants from the European Research Council - Giorgio Parisi (Physics Prize) and Benjamin List (Chemistry Prize). Klaus Hasselmann (Physics Prize) has participated in EU-funded projects. These Nobel Prizes show that investing in top frontier science helps to keep European research at the forefront. Read more in Commissioner Gabriel's Q&A about this happy news.

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Calls and collaborations
Erasmus+ calls for proposals 2022

European Universities, Capacity Building, Jean Monnet, Erasmus Mundus actions – check out all the centralised Erasmus+ calls for proposals! They can be found on the Funding & Tender Opportunities Portal (F&TP). Explore the new 2022 Erasmus+ Programme guide to help you navigate through calls and actions!

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Science meets regions: results of the first call for expression of interest

14 multiregional, regional and local organisations across Europe have been selected to participate in the science meets regions programme. Events focusing on the twin green and digital transitions and post-COVID recovery are expected to start in spring 2022.

A second call for expression of interest will be launched in shortly.

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EIT new call for proposals to boost innovation in higher education

After the success of its first call, the EIT HEI Initiative has announced a second call for proposals, inviting higher education institutions to design activities that will improve their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity. The new call for proposals will support up to 40 consortia of higher education institutions (HEIs) and non-academic organisations with a maximum of EUR 1.2 million of funding each. The deadline for submitting proposals under this second call is 28 February 2022.

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Upcoming calls and events
Announcements of the results of the DiscoverEU applications

Stay tuned! On 6 January, 60,000 young people will learn if they won a free rail pass to travel around Europe for up to one month.

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Adoption of the 2022 Annual work programme of Creative Europe
On 13 January 2022 the Commission will adopt the 2022 Annual work programme of Creative Europe. The Annual work programme outlines the policy framework, the priorities and the actions implementing the Creative Europe Programme. Creative Europe aims to increase the competitiveness of cultural sectors, while supporting their efforts to become greener, more digital and more inclusive. Special attention is given to reinforcing the resilience and recovery of the cultural and creative sectors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Online Info Session: Erasmus+ Partnerships for Innovation| Forward-Looking Projects 2022

Join this information session on 18 January to discover all you need to know about the action, call for proposal, policy priorities and the application procedure for the 2022 Forward-Looking Projects funding opportunities under Erasmus+ programme.

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EU Missions Infoday, 18-19 January 2022

Info-Days for the EU Missions will be held virtually between 18 and 19 January 2022. For a detailed agenda, participation information and practical details, visit the event website.

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Ceremony 35th anniversary of Erasmus+, French Presidency, Paris

Stay tuned for the ceremony of the 35th anniversary of Erasmus+ on 20 January! Placed under the high patronage of the French President, the event in Paris will highlight innovative Erasmus+ strategies. It will also provide an opportunity for exchanges between national and European authorities and will promote the programme through testimonies.

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Save the date for the Info Day Erasmus+ Sport!

The European Commission and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) will hold an online Erasmus+ Sport Info Day on 31 January 2022 and 1 February 2022 to inform potential applicants about the Erasmus+ Sport funding opportunities in 2022.

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A strategy for universities and building bridges for effective European higher education cooperation
In mid-January, the Commission will present a Communication on the European strategy for universities and submit a Proposal for the “Building bridges for effective European higher education cooperation” initiative. These actions are both part of the policy objective Promoting our European Way of Life of the Education Package of the Commission Annual Work Programme 2022.
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Council recommendation on education for environmental sustainability
As part of the EU biodiversity strategy and the Communication on the European Education Area, in January the Commission will propose a recommendation on education for environmental sustainability for learners of all ages and at all levels of education. This initiative is the first step in helping EU countries cooperate and develop stronger policies on education for environmental sustainability, climate education, biodiversity and related topics.
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French EU Presidency: upcoming informal ministerial meetings
The French Presidency of the Council of the European Union will hold several informal ministerial meetings this month, including an Informal Meeting of Ministers for Higher Education, Research and Innovation on 24-25 January and an Informal Meeting of Ministers for Education and Youth on 26-27 January.
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