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The Commission details its plan for a European Institute of Technology
Commission Européenne - IP/06/751 08/06/2006
Brussels, 8 June 2006
Following a wide-ranging consultation of stakeholders and Member States, the Commission today adopted a new Communication fleshing out its plan for the establishment of a European Institute of Technology (EIT). Much progress has been made since the Spring European Council (March 2006) invited the Commission to continue developing its proposal to create a European Institute of Technology - a flagship project for excellence in higher education, research and innovation. Responding to the request of the Heads of State and Government in March, the Communication both clarifies its proposal and identifies issues that must be addressed next. The aim is to focus the ongoing consultation and debate in the coming months and prepare a formal proposal towards the end of the year.
Commenting on this new Communication, President José-Manuel Barroso said: “The EIT is part of the Commission’s strategy to create a thriving and dynamic environment for research, education and innovation. We need a close connection between all these three areas of the knowledge triangle. The EIT will be more than simply an operator in education, research and innovation; it will be a reference model for excellence at the European level. He added: I would like to see the Institute become a European symbol for our renewed effort towards creating a competitive knowledge society, delivering more and better jobs and prosperity.”
In this Communication, the Commission presents the results so far of the consultation process. This has led to a clarification of the proposed structure and functioning of the Institute. At the heart of the concept will be the EIT Governing Board with a light support structure (administration, legal service, etc). This will identify strategic scientific challenges in interdisciplinary areas (perhaps, for example, green energy or nanotechnologies). It will then, on a competitive basis, select and support “Knowledge Communities” to carry out the tasks related to research, education and innovation in these areas. These “Knowledge Communities” will be integrated partnerships, consisting of teams put together by universities, research organisations and industry. As a result of its consultations, the Commission has developed its concept with regard staffing arrangements for the EIT: a whole range of options should be available (direct employment, secondment, dual affiliation and sabbaticals) Maximum flexibility should be given to the Knowledge Communities with regard to their own organisational structure.
The EIT itself must have a strong identity and be able to pool and integrate existing top-class teams from universities and research institutes across Europe. The Institute must be a truly autonomous organisation able to set its own strategic agenda.
The benefits of creating the Institute are also detailed in this Communication. Participating partners will stand to gain from increased visibility, increased R&D capacity, better financial incentives, and reduced costs of risk-taking.
The Institute is a complementary to other EU actions to strengthen innovation in Europe. These include the 7th Framework Programme with the European Research Council, the European Technology Platforms and Joint Technology Initiatives, the Life Long Learning Programme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, the modernization agenda for universities, and the nurturing of entrepreneurship.
Commissioner Ján Figel’, responsible for Education & Training, said that “as a flagship of excellence, the Institute will be able to attract the best students and researchers world-wide, thereby consolidating Europe’s position as a global actor in education and research.” The Commissioner added that “the European Institute of Technology will put innovation at the heart of the knowledge triangle. Businesses will be core partners at the Institute’s strategic and operational levels. Companies will be directly involved in research and education activities, thereby helping to nurture an entrepreneurial mindset among graduates and researchers. This is vital if Europe is to achieve its goal of being a dynamic knowledge-based economy.”
During the coming months, the Commission will continue to consult widely with Member states and stakeholders, on such issues as how the EIT should award degrees or diplomas, and the financial implications of the project.
The Commission has embarked on a detailed impact assessment for the proposal. A draft legal instrument establishing the EIT would then follow, to be adopted in the autumn of this year.
Also see MEMO (Frequently Asked Questions): MEMO/06/233
 COM(2006) 77 final of 22 February 2006