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EU’s research ministers meeting in Tallinn to discuss Horizon 2020 results

Mailis Reps welcoming the EU research ministers, July 25, 2017.
Mailis Reps welcoming the EU research ministers, July 25, 2017. Source: (ERR)

The European Union’s research ministers are meeting in Tallinn on Tuesday to discuss research funding and the EU’s Horizon 2020 program. The program, about to reach its interim reporting stage, is the largest of its kind in the world, and its results will have far-reaching consequences for the future EU funding of science and research.

The ministers will discuss the results of the program up to this point as well as the future perspective of the union’s research funding. The debate is of key importance, as its results are seen to have an effect on virtually every policy area of the EU over the next decades.

Meetings begin on Tuesday morning at Tallinn’s Creative Hub. A press conference is scheduled for 4:40 p.m. local time. You can watch it live once it starts.

Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center) will chair today's meetings. Reps told ERR’s radio news on Monday that one of the main issues to be discussed at the informal meeting of the EU’s research ministers was how research was to be financed—more money was needed, and the distribution of the funding needed to improve.

“The older member states that have been in the union longer are skimming the funds, and the newcomers tend to be subcontractors and participating with smaller stakes,” Reps said commenting on the role of the EU’s more recent members in the distribution of the union’s research funds out of the Horizon 2020 program.

On one hand, Europe on the whole needed greater investment in research and development, Reps said. There had been the suggestion that the current financing should be doubled. On the other hand, this meant that the members had to invest more individually as well.

“90 percent of the money is at the the level of the member states, and there as well the percentages are worrying. As a competitor of Asia and America, as Europe we’re falling behind,” Reps said.

She added that it was still difficult to say what the solution would have to look like at the EU level. Where for example the funds supporting agriculture were very clearly defined, this wasn’t the case with the union’s research money. This needed to change, as the research and science funds were very small, and for Europe to be successful, there needed to be more funding.

In the field of education, the chief issue in the period of Estonia’s EU council presidency is bringing instruction across all levels up to speed, and to bring it closer to the labor market.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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