A challenging agenda: the role of R&I in the EU Recovery Plan

On June 10, Knowledge4Innovation hosted a virtual debate on the importance of addressing the rebuilding of the European economy after the COVID-19 pandemic and the role that the crisis will have in the EU’s innovation policy. A variety of key issues were discussed on how R&I will be a critical part driving the repair and recovery of the economy, the role of Horizon Europe and the European Innovation Council, and how a great opportunity is to build a more sustainable and digital Union in the aftermath of the crisis.

The panel consisted of Jean-Eric Paquet, the Director-General of DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission, Servaas Duterloo, the Head of Unit Research Funding EU at the Delft University of Technology. As co-hosting MEP, Maria da Graça Carvalho, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, and Victor Negrescu, Chair members of the K4I Forum. 

To begin with, Mr. Paquet stressed the importance of coordination in all areas to achieve a better understanding between strategies, by focusing on the investments and actions on the digital and green transitions, from the view of health policy, but also beyond health issues. A set of tools (Partnerships and Missions) are crucial to re-define the European agenda, and as Jean-Eric Paquet said, “R&I and Horizon Europe is very much innovation and basic research-curiosity driven, by switching portfolios of groundbreaking research it would be possible to achieve many great solutions.” 

So, by concentrating all the efforts and ensuring the deployment of research outcomes across the Recovery Package and future MFF, the first few years ahead will be critical. However, Mr. Paquet is very optimistic that the impact will be enormous and highly beneficial for the Union as a whole, as long as European leaders make a quick decision so that the Recovery Package is up and running in the shortest period of time. 

For his part, Mr. Duterloo addressed the relevance of synergies and communications between the EU industrial strategies, saying that it is a great opportunity but it is necessary a proportionality between Horizon Europe and the Recovery Package. Mr. Negrescu, underlined the importance of the cohesion and coordination between Member States and that the priorities should enhance the competitive role of the EU in the global scene. 

Overall, the session looked into some of the most relevant issues in the EU political agenda concerning R&I. Consensually, the panelists recognised R&I’s centrality in building the EU’s resilience towards a digital and green future. As well as the need for better coordination of the recovery budget and the synergies between Horizon Europe and other programmes within the political agenda in order to ensure Europe’s digital and green competitiveness.  

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