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A new approach to the management of R&D policy and Horizon Europe

As a part of a wider effort to help Member States reform and strengthen their research and innovation systems and reorganise the European Research Area, 15% of the European Commission’s research directorate staff will move to executive agencies.

An organisational restructure at European Commission’s research directorate (DG RTD) will reduce its staff by one third. This will allow DG RTD to focus on policy development and to work closely with Member States on the reform of national research systems and the implementation of the European Research Area (ERA).

The restructuring will help the Commission align research and innovation policy with global challenges as Jean-Eric Paquet, head of DG RTD said.

“We are not losing the deep link to projects because executive agencies are part of the Commission,” said Paquet who also pointed out that agencies have broader freedom to employ people on fixed-term contracts, rather than hiring top-paid career EU officials.

The work to supervise the implementation of EU research programmes will be delegated to new executive agencies. “The strategic choice which was proposed by [EU research commissioner] Mariya Gabriel and myself is that with entrusting executive agencies with the implementation of the projects, we can then focus even further on research policy,” Paquet concluded.

Overview of new agencies

The restructuring will lead to a reduction of DG RTD staff from 50 to 43, while the number of executive agencies will increase from 29 to 48. The Commission’s entire research and innovation system lead by a common policy centre will serve as ”the engine room of research policy”, formerly directorate for programming.

  • ERCEA: The European Research Council Executive Agency (former ERCEA)

  • EISMEA: The European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (SME-part of EASME + part of REA + part of CHAFEA + EC). The European Innovation Council (EIC) will become a fully-fledged agency.

  • REA: The European Research Executive Agency (former REA + part of CHAFEA + EC)

  • CINEA: The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (INEA + ENV-part of EASME)

  • HaDEA: The European Health and Digital Executive Agency (part of CHAFEA + part of EASME + EC). A new Health and Digital Executive Agency will welcome over 50 staff coming from the health directorate.

  • EACEA: The European Education and Culture Executive Agency (former EACEA + EC) à does not depend on DG RTD, but on DG EAC

The Commission is committed to helping Member States build R&D capacity and attract and retain talent for a successful redesign of the ERA. The new organigram will come into force on 1 April 2021.

Sources: Science Business, European CommissionEuropean Research Council