prepared by Eamon Dooley (IE/Renew Europe), member of
Offaly County Council, outlines that research infrastructures are
critical for regional development and competiveness, extending from
scientific output to the impact on educational ecosystems, as well as
for combating global challenges linked to climate and the environment.
However, the share of research funding by the government sector in the
EU has stagnated at a little over 2%. There is also an imbalance at
regional level: just 31 out of 281 NUTS 2 regions reported R&D
investments above the EU target of 3.0% in 2015. There are clear
research-intensive clusters located mainly in Northern and Western
Europe whereas other regions are lagging behind, as the European
Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2019
"There is the risk of growing inequalities between cities and regions
that benefit from the increased Horizon Europe research and innovation
funding, and the others, who will suffer the consequences of the likely
fall in cohesion policy budgets. This particularly concerns the newer
Member States which have been the main recipients of structural and
investment funds, while most of the Horizon Europe funding is
concentrated in regions that excel", rapporteur Dooley stresses.
Mr Dooley's opinion points out that specific funding models are
required across the whole R&I lifecycle to address funding gaps
where European, national or other funding sources are insufficient.
This could include more creative use of funds from structural funds,
Horizon Europe and loans from the European Investment Bank, as well as
Erasmus, Digital Europe, COSME, the Connecting Europe Facility, LIFE
and other instruments, potentially using a co-funding model with
national research funds.
Even though the foundations for the
European Research Area (ERA)
were laid back in 2000, the opinion expresses concerns over various
shortcomings in the ERA framework regarding research infrastructure
that reduce its potential benefits and efficiencies.
"To address grand challenges such as climate change", Mr Dooley points
out, "research infrastructures must be capable of integrating with
those of neighbouring regions, thus creating greater knowledge-sharing
and contributing to interdisciplinary research. R&I policy must be
linked the development and implementation of smart specialisation
strategies, as these are innovative approaches to boosting economic
growth, job creation based on identified regional needs, linking and
involving regions in R&I activities".
Mr Dooley's opinion on
Research Infrastructures – the Future of the European Research
Area (ERA) from a Regional and Cross-border Perspective
is set to be adopted on 9 October at the CoR plenary session, which
also features a debate with the current EU budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger.
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