The opinion might aim to:
support the ambitious initiatives foreseen in the Communication, striving to address global challenge and to manage the transition to sustainable societies, and offering the potential for a transformative impact on research and for a strengthening of Europe through knowledge.
advocate for a greater involvement of local and regional authorities in the design of research and innovation initiatives, the strategic identification of regional research priorities and the creation of effective innovation ecosystems.
stress the need to boost the relevant funding, especially considering the vast aims of the new European Research Area. In fact, the level of ambition for the renewed ERA seems not matched by sufficient investment under the current proposal for Horizon Europe.
highlight the necessity of strengthening the focus on science, research and knowledge, as core values of the EU, in order to exploit the significant contribution that these policies provide in achieving Europe’s wider objectives;
underline the importance of utilizing the diversity of regional and local R&I systems, fostering inclusiveness and reducing fragmentation, and that of improving the circulation of researchers and knowledge, while addressing brain drain, as well as ensuring gender equality;
suggest to ensure that the ERA’s governance enable dialogue and synergies, be transparent and directly involve stakeholders;
advocate that creating better links to the regions should be a general objective of the ERA actions.
The CoR representative, Christophe Clergeau (FR/PES), assisted at a number of meetings of the Expert Group of the "ERA Forum for Transition" in an observer status.
Following the adoptionn of the Joint Action Plan (JAP) with Commissioner Mariya Gabriel's services, the Rapporteur, Christophe Clergeau (FR/PES) was invited to join the 'ERA Forum for Transition' as an observer. This EC-Member States structure is key to the implementation of the renewed European Research Area (ERA) agenda and that of Horizon Europe in general.
As a result, the CoR managed to have a direct impact and to make proposals to the EC, as well as the Slovenian Presidency Conclusions and other key documents. Last but not least, an 'ERA Hubs' pilot project, addressing regional and local needs, has been initiated and is due for launch by the EC in early 2022.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the specific reference to the European Committee of the Regions as a key player in the ERA, especially through the Knowledge Exchange Platform and the Science Meets Regions initiative;
- stresses that this communication is only a starting point, asks to be involved in the preparation of the new steps as the adoption of a "pact for research and innovation"; considers that the full involvement of cities and regions in the "ERA Forum for Transition" is essential;
- regrets that it has not been possible to propose a fresh approach for a European Education and Research Area; points to the need for a cross-cutting approach to these issues;
- considers that a new ERA should be an opportunity to fully recognise the role of smart specialisations and their collective and entrepreneurial process as one of the cornerstones of current and future European research and innovation performance; stresses the importance of facilitating trans-regional cooperation;
- calls for emphasises the excellence of impacts, which is closely linked to collaboration between science and innovation ecosystems, particularly local and regional ones, and the excellence of ecosystems themselves;
- warmly supports the introduction of the "ERA hub" as an opportunity to give institutional recognition and a tangible form to the concept of regional ecosystems and innovation hubs, and to fully recognise a place-based approach to science and innovation;
- considers that these ERA hubs should be supported directly by the EU, including in financial terms, and that recognition of these ERA hubs can be an important points of support for achieving the European Union's objectives and for implementing the relevant policies;
- hopes that at least 50 to 100 sites in Europe can be recognised as ERA hubs and that this network will be open to a broad range of participants, in particular to emerging ecosystems in the EU-13 and the most disadvantaged regions;
- stresses that the network of ERA hubs could become an excellent framework to boost the emergence of collective research and innovation projects, combining several regional ecosystems and innovation hubs in a bottom-up approach;
- warns of the consequences of the current crises on the most fragile and hardest-hit regions; notes that the ERA is fragmented: agrees that progress on implementation of the ERA has slowed down and that there are still large disparities between countries and regions; considers that these observations are widely shared and oft repeated, but that no political lessons have been drawn from them.