At the 25 July informal meeting in Tallinn, EU research ministers discussed how to rationalise the research funding landscape and increase the coherence and openness of European research and innovation partnerships.
“We all agree that the partnerships are important. However, the current partnering system is so complex and fragmented that it is very difficult to make sense of it without professional consultants,” said the Estonian Minister for Education and Research Mailis Reps. “We need to rationalise the research funding landscape, show that public money is well spent and make sure that our investments deliver visible impact on society and the economy.”
In the afternoon session of today’s meeting, the Executive Director of CERIC-ERIC Jana Kolar spoke about the advantages and challenges of the partnering approach, drawing on her experience with joint programming and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
Luc Soete, a Maastricht University professor, reflected on the current situation and discussed the possibilities for rationalising the landscape. Luc Soete said that there are good economic arguments in favour of European research and innovation collaboration, but the implementation is critical. “European research and innovation partnerships appear today to increase the cost of carrying out research in Europe: the fragmentation amongst countries and stakeholders is being replaced with fragmentation across instruments,” noted Soete.
The presentations were followed by a discussion where the role and added value of research and innovation partnerships, as well as the coordination of the system was debated. The ministers conceded that it is important to make the partnership approach more strategic, align resources and activitiesaround common concrete objectives, and to reduce the number of different initiatives.
Today’s discussions served as an input to the Council conclusions on the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 and the next research framework programme. The Estonian Presidency aims to reach an agreement on the Council conclusions by the end of the year.