The Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU organised an informal videoconference of EU research ministers to discuss joint research and innovation response to COVID-19.
The videoconference chaired by Blaženka Divjak, Minister of Research and Education of the Republic of Croatia was also attended by the EU Commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, Mariya Gabriel.
“Reaching out to our researchers and innovators in the fight against the COVID-19 has never been more crucial in our lifetime. Today's discussions prove that we are all determined to coordinate our actions aimed at optimising the conditions in which our scientists work for our collective wellbeing.”
Blaženka Divjak, Minister of Science and Education of Croatia
The crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic has an unprecedented impact on our health systems, societies and economies. Research and innovation are called upon to play an important role in overcoming this crisis. Only with the help of research and our scientists will we be able to answer a series of current global challenges – from the discovery of the vaccine to saving our economies to recover in shortest possible timeframe. More than ever, scientists have become irreplaceable advisors to decision-makers in a number of areas, from health to education and economy.
Ministers support a set of 10 actions to be implemented at EU level
On 26th March, EU leaders recognised research and innovation as one of the five main strands where efforts and investments need to continue in order to help overcome the crisis. As a follow-up to this request, EU Research Ministers today expressed support for a first set of 10 actions which can be implemented at EU level in very short time period.
Ministers also exchanged views on how EU research and innovation should respond to the medium and long-term effects of the crisis. They also discussed the important role of scientists in advising decision-makers.
“Research and innovation are providing the hope and scientific knowledge we need to combat the coronavirus. To have stronger impact, we need to cooperate even closer across the EU and beyond. I warmly welcome the support ministers gave to the first immediate ‘ERAvsCorona’ actions. They provide an excellent basis to coordinate, share information and research data, and to fund priority actions. Joining forces makes us stronger in tackling this virus.”
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
Ministers stressed that the joint plan listing priority actions should be regularly updated in a co-creative manner between the Commission services and national administrations in the coming months. There was broad acknowledgment that the European Research Area should, based on recent lessons learned, strive to provide a faster response to similar future crises.
Research is key to address the pandemic
Finally, ministers welcomed the idea of synergies between all available EU programmes and funds and supported the need to attract considerable further investments in research and innovation across the EU.
“Research is key to understand and address the impact of this pandemic on our society and economy. Efforts at all levels must be first and foremost guided by the necessity to protect our citizens and preserve their quality of life," concluded Minister Blaženka Divjak.
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