Brussels, December 4, 2013: A breakfast briefing entitled “Greece EU Council Presidency: Science Priorities” hosted by Mr Ioannis Tsoukalas MEP in association with ISC took place today at the European Parliament in Brussels.
The briefing was organized on the occasion of the forthcoming Greece Presidency of the Council of the European Union in January next year and provided an insight on the Presidency priorities in the area of science, research and innovation.
Dr Christos Vasilakos, Secretary General for Research and Technology at the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, highlighted the following priorities: the implementation of Horizon 2020, international Scientific and Technological agreements for the participation of third countries in Horizon 2020, advancing the European Research Area and the completion of the Innovation Investment Package.
Mr Tsoukalas MEP stressed that Europe is lagging behind in terms of investing in research and competitiveness, both externally, vis-a-vis with third countries and internally with the gap between the EU members growing, “It is clear that with respect to Research and Innovation we have a two-speed Europe, with the core countries being far ahead from the periphery countries with respect to productivity, competitiveness and economic development precisely because the former achieved the Lisbon Strategy target of devoting 3% of GDP to R&D and the later didn't. It is clear that the underinvestment in research is the root cause of the crisis and not the result of it. The transformation of the EU into a knowledge and innovation society is the only reliable and predictable path to long-term development.”
He also stated that investment in research and innovation during this period of crisis is not a luxury but a necessity and hopes that Horizon 2020 together with the European Institute for Innovation and Technology will facilitate the catch-up process between the EU Member States. He concluded by encouraging the upcoming Greece Presidency to work towards ensuring that research and innovation will be high on the agenda of each and every Member State, because “this is the real tool for development and not the austerity measures”.
Dr Vasilakos responded to Mr Tsoukalas’ statement by saying that “the Greek Presidency will do its utmost to ensure the successful implementation of Horizon 2020, the EU’s framework for research and innovation (2014-2020), the largest European programme of its kind.”
Mr David Harmon, Member of the cabinet of EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Ms Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, also gave a speech and recognised the demanding yet exciting road ahead for the Greek government, “the Greek government is assuming the Presidency of the European Union at an exciting time. It has a heavy political agenda to deal with in the research, innovation and science sectors. It should be remembered that Greece ranks 9th out of 28 EU countries in terms of the level of financial drawdown it secures under existing EU programmes. Greece is a leader in Europe in the field of research, innovation and science and no one should forget this important fact.”
Mr Harmon urged MEP’s to approve the Innovation Investment Package before April 2014 to take advantage of 22 billion, in order to activate calls for proposals as soon as possible.
Mr Tsoukalas concluded the briefing by saying, “I am very pleased that the Greek government had the opportunity to make public the priorities of the Greek EU Council Presidency, in front of a high-level and knowledgeable public. It was a very fruitful discussion’’.
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The Greece Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Greece will hold the Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2014, before handing over reins to Italy on 1 July 2014. It is the fifth time that Greece will hold the EU Presidency since its accession to the European Communities in 1981.
Greece is assuming the Presidency of the Council of the European Union at a critical transitional juncture for Europe. The economic crisis forced the adoption of fiscal constraint policies aimed at ensuring financial stability and returning the economy to health. The extent and intensity of the crisis, as well as the resulting recession and unemployment undermined the trust of a significant number of European citizens in the ability of the European edifice to implement credible and effective policy for a return to prosperity, economic recovery and high levels of employment.
At the same time, facing up to the crisis by implementing policies of strict fiscal discipline has strongly impacted social cohesion, particularly in countries directly affected by the crisis. As such, the great challenge for prosperity and stability in the EU lies in reaffirming of the EU’s mission in the hearts and minds of European citizens.
In this context, Europe is currently being called upon to respond to the challenge of the economic crisis, to safeguard the common currency by deepening and reinforcing the EMU, while promoting direct policies tackling recession and unemployment by stimulating growth.
Further information: http://www.gr2014.eu/eu-presidency/the-greek-presidency
Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. Running from 2014 to 2020 with a budget of just over €70 billion1, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe.
Horizon 2020 provides major simplification through a single set of rules. It will combine all research and innovation funding currently provided through the Framework Programmes for Research and Technical Development, the innovation related activities of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).
Further information on Horizon 2020: http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm?pg=home
The Innovation Investment Package
The Innovation Investment Package is a legislative initiative aiming to increase the scientific and technological cooperation between national research programmes as well as the industrial participation in the key research areas. It includes a number of legislative initiatives/proposals to establish- Public-Private Partnerships/PPPs (under article 187 of the EU Treaty) and - Public - Public Partnerships/PPPs (under article 185 of the EU Treaty) with Member States under Horizon 2020. The areas covered by the former are Research and Development Programme for Small and Medium Enterprises, European Metrology programme, Active & Assisted Living, and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnerships while areas falling under the latter are Bio-based Industries, Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2, Clean Sky 2, Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 and Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research.