Spanish Presidency R&I priorities one month in

Spanish Presidency R&I priorities one month in

The Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU kicked off on 1 July 2023. One month into the term, we take a closer look at the developments regarding priorities in the field of research and innovation from a regional and local perspective.

The Presidency aims to focus on strengthening R&I ecosystems and fostering initiatives to introduce them at all territorial levels. In this frame, one of the priorities is to develop Council Conclusions on strengthening the role and impact of R&I in the policy making process in democratic societies. Among the three main pillars to be addressed in this respect is the role of regional and local innovation ecosystems in improving cooperation and territorial cohesion through R&I (alongside the role of science in public policies and the impact of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Mechanism on R&I and sectoral policies, consolidating a European Research Area - ERA). Other goals of the Presidency include advancing the Commission’s proposals on EU missions and research projects, as well as consolidating and strengthening the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA).

ERRIN welcomes the emphasis on regional and local ecosystems, especially with the mid-term reviews approaching and reflections on the next EU Framework Programme starting.

The Council Conclusions should be adopted towards the end of the year, but the discussions around R&I priorities were launched already on 27-28 July in Santander, during an Informal ministerial meeting on competitiveness (research). The exchanges focused on four main topics: promoting innovation in the Mediterranean; emphasising the role of science diplomacy; presenting the IFMIF-DONES project on energy sustainability; and strengthening the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan 2025-2027.

On the strategic plan, the meeting aimed to reinforce it and ensure that its objectives are further aligned with European and national public policies and priorities. For example, synergies between R&I policies and programmes within the EU need to be further developed in line with the European Research Area objectives – a message supported by ERRIN as an active stakeholder in the ERA Forum. The network has been advocating for broadening the scope of ERA by explicitly including innovation; integrating a place-based research and innovation ecosystem approach; and applying a truly multi-level governance model where the regional and local levels are included.

Meeting participants also agreed that EU Missions and European Partnerships must improve not only through alignment of priorities but also in terms of the contribution of European funds – a point endorsed by ERRIN in its input paper to the Horizon 2014-2027 from February 2023, alongside the need for further involvement of regions in the initiatives.

Looking forward, ERRIN will continue closely following Spanish Council discussions around R&I, paying particular attention to planned work on the regional and local innovation ecosystems dimension.

Find all the priorities of the Spanish Presidency in its programme here.

Learn more about the Informal ministerial meeting on competitiveness on 27-28 July here.