The COVID 19 pandemic has made evident to all the overriding importance of improving the knowledge base in overcoming crises as well as the fundamental relevance of open scientific collaboration, leading to innovative results and data sharing across Europe and beyond.
This was stated by the Minister for Research, Innovation and the Co-ordination of post-Covid-19 Strategy Owen Bonnici who attended and participated within the Competitiveness Council meeting of Research Ministers, held in Brussels on the 28 May 2021.
Minister Bonnici argued for a new paradigm shift on the European Research Area, whereby EU research and innovation policy concretely support researchers’ career development and progression, in order to improve the production and circulation of scientific knowledge.
The Council meeting served for the EU research ministers to hold an exchange of view at the political level on the renewal of the European Research Area (ERA).
The political discussion was undertaken in the context of the aftermath of the pandemic crisis and just as the future of Europe is starting to be discussed.
The ministerial discussion thus focused on how science and technology can contribute to the future of Europe as the new post-pandemic reality is starting to slowly emerge.
The ministers acknowledged that R&I policies and programming were of great importance at all levels of policymaking.
Minister Bonnici also emphasised that the renewed European Research Area should aim to bridge the innovation disparities between the member states.
Furthermore, the minister also suggested that the European Commission should provide mentoring support schemes for researchers to be better prepared to access the schemes run by the European Research Council, create the right incentives framework for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) academics to return and reintegrate in the R&I ecosystems of their countries, and ensure affordable access conditions to European Research Infrastructures for researchers from all member states.
The research ministers also approved the political agreement on the new Regulation on establishing the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (HPC).
Malta became a full member of this specialised research and innovation partnership in early May.