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A new pact strengthens innovation in Europe

The digital and ecological transition and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic have been two major levers for reformulating the European Research Area (ERA). The most obvious move has been the creation by the Council of the European Union of a ‘Research and Innovation Pact for Europe’, a strategy defining 16 priority areas for research and innovation in Europe. These areas of action range from promoting open science for faster exchange of knowledge and data to strengthening the European Union’s scientific leadership and excellence, involving all European regions and citizens.

The Council of the European Union has also established Conclusions on the future governance of the European Research Area. In particular, they refer to the first ERA policy agenda, which sets out 20 voluntary actions for the next three years. These include bringing science closer to citizens, promoting attractive research careers and improving access to excellence across the EU, an area on which Zabala Innovation focuses its action.

Together, the Pact and the Conclusions set out a new vision and new priorities, confirm the commitment of the EU and the Member States to the European Research Area and establish a new structure for its governance. They are an important milestone in the realisation of ‘A new European Research Area for Research and Innovation’.

Monitoring to assess innovation

The R&I Pact underlines Europe’s desire for reforms to support research and innovation, and provides the basis for simplified coordination with Member States and an updated monitoring mechanism to assess progress.

The new governance of the European Research Area will improve the current structure to allow for closer collaboration and coordination of policies across the EU and its Member States. This includes the development of the first ERA policy agenda with concrete actions for the next three years. The priority action areas set out in the Pact provide a stable framework for updating the joint ERA policy agenda beyond 2024.

The future ERA Forum, a Commission expert group composed of representatives of the Commission and Member States, will be established in early 2022. In the context of the ERA Forum, Member States and the Commission will co-design and coordinate the implementation of ERA actions, prepare future updates of the ERA policy agenda and ensure the involvement of Horizon Europe partner countries, relevant third countries and stakeholders. In addition, the new ERA monitoring system, including a scoreboard, a dashboard and an online policy platform, will be set up by mid-2022.