Member states plan to discuss the governance of the new European Research Area (ERA) on 25 October after the drafting of a new proposal for the Council Conclusions by the Slovenian EU Presidency. In this crucial context for stakeholders, EUA stresses the key points from the recent open letter signed by 15 organisations and addressed to Slovenian Minister Simona Kustec and EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and adds some important comments.
The Association reiterates that R&I stakeholders must be involved in the ERA Forum with a structured and sustained representation. This representation should feature the two-level approach proposed by the Slovenian Presidency in the draft Council Conclusions published on 7 September. This involves a sectorial representation, including the higher education sector, in the ERA Forum meetings for the co-creation and co-design of the new ERA. For the implementation, it should also have a voluntary R&I stakeholder register for involvement in the work of ERA Forum sub-groups.
Furthermore, EUA wishes to clarify that such sectorial representation is not about stakeholders having a voting role in the governance structure. Rather it is about stakeholders acting as consultative experts, contributing perspectives from their sector.
EUA recognises that if ERA stakeholders are involved as described above, member states may occasionally hold dedicated meetings of the ERA Forum without stakeholder representation.
The Bologna Process is an excellent example of a similar co-creation approach that member states, the Commission and stakeholders have used successfully for more than 20 years. It has built consensus and created more coherence in the European Higher Education Area. EUA advocates that a similar process be used for the co-creation and implementation of an effective and resilient new ERA.
The European Research Area (ERA), in the European Commission’s words, is the ambition to create a single, borderless market for research, innovation and technology across the EU. In September 2020, the Commission presented a package of major initiatives aimed at unlocking Europe’s potential in education, research and innovation. It included a Communication on a renewed European Research Area.