Towards the recovery of Europe: innovation, employment and mobility

Webinar 1

Comisión de Política y Diplomacia Científica de CEBE; CEBE Science Policy and Diplomacy Committee · 14-01-2021 10:00 · Webinars

The cycle of three online seminars "Towards the recovery of Europe: innovation, employment and mobility", organized by the association of Spanish Scientists in Belgium (CEBE) in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Social Security of the Embassy of Spain in Belgium and sponsored by the Ramón Areces Foundation, has brought together nine experts representing different institutions at the European level (European CommisionEURESREPER), national (CSIC) and local (INJUVE Aragón) who provided relevant information on the tools, programs and opportunities for R&D, employment and mobility in the context of the Recovery Plan for Europe.

The first online seminar took place on October 6, 2020, in which speakers addressed the Recovery Plan for Europe from the point of view of Science and Innovation, as a central and strategic axis for the recovery of the EU Member States.

Mr. Román Arjona (Chief Economist and Head of Unit, R&D&I Strategy and Prospective Unit, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, DG RTD, European Commission) explained recent European actions to respond to the health crisis and for extension to the social and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her speech on the State of the Union, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, raised her vision about the need for an economic model that has its epicenter in well-being and not wealth. The EU has worked on ambitious policies such as the Green Deal, the Skills Agenda and on new R&D&I policies (Horizon Europe) that will help tackle the rest of global challenges such as climate change, social inequality ... that are polarizing society.

In this context, the EU's priorities are to face all these challenges by positioning R&D&I as the epicenter to contribute to the following 3 areas: R&D&I is essential to accelerate the ecological and digital transitions and achieve by example the objectives of the Green Deal. Moreover, R&D&I is essential for the remaining social challenges: for example, Horizon 2020 has contributed to advance in the health area with calls (vaccines, diagnosis, ...). And finally, R&D&I is essential to create competitiveness, employment, growth of society. There is maximum political support for R&D&I from the EU.

Román explained the financing mechanism NextGenerationEU, where 37% of the budget will go to the Green Deal and 20% to digital progress. Member states will have to work on a reform package in areas that all have a R&D&I factor. Spain is very well positioned in transport or energy transition. Reforms by member states will have to take into account European objectives in the context of the Recovery Plan for Europe. Román also presented the new agenda of the European Research Area that aims to improve the quality and efficiency of the R&D&I systems of the 27 EU member states and that there is a common approach and a transferability of knowledge and supporting the connection between academia and industry or the improvement of research infrastructures among other objectives.

Mr. Ignacio Baleztena (Responsible for Communication and Dissemination, R&D&I Strategy Unit and Prospective, Directorate General for Research and Innovation DG RTD, European Commission), presented “Horizon Europe”, the most powerful financial instrument in Europe to give support for R&D&I policies that seek a fairer, more sustainable and resilient Europe. This instrument, which will enter into force on January 1st, 2021, will allow the search for solutions to global challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. In addition, it is intended to have inclusive growth and employability for all citizens of Europe.

Horizon Europe aims to improve the economic, scientific and social impact of Europe and to improve the lives of citizens while maintaining European values. The European Commission is seeking new models for evaluating this financial instrument. Ignacio explained the structure of Horizon Europe and the three pillars on which its strategy is based, which covers the entire cycle of innovation from basic research to the application of the knowledge generated to address the challenges of society. He also presented the missions, which are multidisciplinary projects that have ambitious but achievable objectives that have a social impact, and are 5 thematic areas (health / cancer, climate change adaptation, sustainable soils and food, neutral cities, oceans and clean water bodies).

Mr. Ramón Torrecillas San Millán (Institutional Delegate of the Spanish National Research Council ,CSIC in Brussels) contributed with his vision on the 2021 Research and Innovation strategies. Ramón talked about the geopolitics in recent years and the industrial and technological reality as basis for economic growth. He illustrates us with concrete examples in China that is leading the energy transition. However, it is working in other fields with geostrategic implications. The digital and technological future is currently shaping up in China and that the battle for technological supremacy between China and the USA is also associated and shows how China has used financing and tax exemption models to maintain positive growth despite the crisis sanitary. In this scenario, the EU is raising awareness and moving forward to provide the necessary stimulus for the EU to defend and promote its interests. Ramón exposed the innovation models, their advantages and weaknesses, through concrete examples of start-up creation in the USA, China, Israel, Germany, Denmark… and how they are promoting competition from these countries by creating quality employment. In all the examples, governments are funding research and the need to separate investment in basic science from geopolitical strategies is raised as a reflection. Ramón spoke of white, blue, red and gold innovation. Once again, through concrete examples, he explained to us the investments and returns in R&D&I in the market and the creation of industrial ecosystems and therefore economic and employment growth.

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This blog is supported by the Arts and Culture section of the Spanish Embassy in Belgium and by the Brussels section of the “Instituto Cervantes”, under the SciComm initiative #SPreadScience.

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