UnILiON meets Jean-Eric Paquet

UnILiON meets Jean-Eric Paquet

On 3 March, the UnILiON network met with Jean-Eric Paquet, the Director-General for research and innovation at the European Commission. The meeting was an opportunity to receive an update on the state of preparations for Horizon Europe, in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the next long-term EU budget.

The Horizon Europe budget has to respond to the objectives of EU policies, but is also under pressure from ’traditional’ policies (agriculture, cohesion, etc) in the context that some member states oppose an increase in the overall MFF budget. Paquet therefore encouraged universities to engage constructively with their national governments in the establishment of priorities for negotiations. Any message sent to ministries of education, research or finance is important. And what needs to be highlighted is not that science is important and that funding is required, but rather the added value of bringing actors together so that we can transform Europe and achieve the Green Deal.

Paquet also described how the Green Deal is the most disruptive policy narrative that has happened at EU level in a long time. The concept is the overarching narrative and framework for European public policy. Paquet finds it particularly important that the policy clearly states that economic growth is not an end in itself. But that we need growth with a clear purpose, one that delivers better social outcomes and allows us to deal with the climate challenge and biodiversity degradation.

The challenge will be to transform traditional policies, such as transport, agriculture and energy. And here the updating of the partnership programmes under Horizon Europe will play an important role.

At the meeting, UnILiON members were also informed that DG RTD and DG EAC are now working much more closely than together than ever before, not only on a policy but also on an operational level. This is thanks to the joint portfolio of research, education and innovation that Commissioner Mariya Gabriel has. We expect to see the fruits of this collaboration in the initiative on universities of the future, to be published by the summer.

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