The Competitiveness Council (Research and Space part) chaired by Dr. Christos Vasilakos, Secretary General for Research and Technology of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, was held today, Monday 26 May 2014 in Brussels.
The main items included the adoption of two sets of Conclusions entitled “Towards a shared EU-ESA vision for space fostering Competitiveness”, and “The implementation of the roadmap for the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures” as well as a policy debate on the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation for research and innovation.
The conclusions on the shared EU-ESA vision for space fostering competitiveness constitute the Council’s response to the progress report adopted by the Commission on 6 February and following a constructive political exchange of views during the Competitiveness Council meeting on 21 February 2014. The relations between the Union and ESA should be seen in the broader space policy context and Europe's long-term strategic vision, including high-level political objectives for autonomy and industrial competitiveness. The Conclusions focus on the further steps, which need to be taken in order to provide proposals on improving the current relations between EU and ESA taking into account this political guidance.
The conclusions on the roadmap implementation of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures emphasize the need for renewing and adapting the mandate of the ESFRI to adequately address the ever emerging societal challenges as well as the need to ensure the follow-up of implementation of already on-going ESFRI projects. The conclusions stem from the report adopted by the ESFRI’s Board in April 2014.
The policy debate on the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in research and innovation was based on the constructive outcome of the recent informal Council meeting organized by the Greek Presidency in Athens, on 13 May. That meeting demonstrated that the technical work developed by the PRIMA initiative (Partnership in Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) is mature enough, which can allow proceeding with the preparation of a dedicated programme. The meeting also marked strong and wide political support for a long-term structured cooperation in research and innovation in the Mediterranean area on equal footing, that is, in line with the principles of co-ownership, mutual interest and shared benefits, building on the multiple bilateral and multilateral research and innovation activities in the region. There was also support regarding the immediate next steps. It was argued that time is ripe for Member States to consolidate all findings and to prepare a comprehensive proposal for a dedicated programme in 2014. The incoming Italian Presidency indicated its strong political will to organise the next steps. Moreover, this process built on previous initiatives such as the informal Council meeting during the Cypriot Presidency, resulting in the Limassol Declaration in July 2012 and the Barcelona Conference in April 2012.
A number of information items were also on today’s agenda. During the space part, the Council was informed of the recent launch and Earth observation images of the first Copernicus satellite (Sentinel 1A). During the research part, the items included the state-of-play with the European Innovation Partnerships (EIP’s), the approach for public sector innovation and the recent adoption of the Innovation Investment Package. Last, the annual report of the Strategic Forum on International Cooperation (SFIC) was presented.