Brussels, 11 December 2012
Ministers' agreement on EIT 'signal in the right direction', says Vassiliou
Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, has welcomed a decision today by EU Ministers in support of the European Commission's proposals for the future of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).
"The Council is sending a signal in the right direction. Especially in times of crisis and budgetary uncertainty it is crucial that we underline our commitment to education, research and innovation," she said.
The agreement on the EIT 'strategic innovation agenda', which is also subject to the backing of the European Parliament, is "strong recognition by the Council of the importance and the added value of the EIT in the European research and innovation landscape and more specifically within the Horizon 2020 programme," added the Commissioner.
However she admitted that she would have preferred an even stronger signal. The themes and number of the EIT's new Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), proposed by the Commission, are excluded from today's agreement. This risks not giving a clear message to European innovation stakeholders willing to engage in consortia, warned Commissioner Vassiliou.
"I believe we have a compelling case for supporting the existing KICs in their growth and for setting up new KICs in those areas of prominent societal challenges where they can make a real difference. It is therefore essential to agree on a budget which reflects our commitment towards growth. It is equally essential to agree on the themes for the next wave of KICs without further delay. We cannot afford to lose momentum now," she stressed.
The Commissioner also expressed reservations about the Council's wish to introduce an additional step in decision-making on the themes of the third wave of KICs which risks delaying their planned introduction in 2018.
The Commissioner noted last week's decision by the European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) in favour of creating up to four new KICs in 2014 from the following list: healthy living and active ageing, raw materials, urban mobility, food for the future, added-value manufacturing. It wants a more open list for further expansion in 2018, subject to budget means.
For more information: Commission proposal for EIT's expansion (IP/11/1479)