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FCT and MCTES co-organized Science Europe High Level Workshop on ERA

Heads of national research institutions, European Ministers and Secretaries of State for Research and European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel met online today as part of Science Europe 's 12th High-Level Workshop on the European Research Area (ERA).  

Organized by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES), the event debated the question of how research and innovation (R&I) can contribute to recovery from the crisis and social resilience, in the context of a growing research culture.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe faces exceptional challenges in the areas of health, economy and society. "The current global climate has led research organizations to a deep reflection on the role of ERA, 20 years after its creation. We need to identify the changes in research culture that must be urgently addressed and collectively develop a new vision for European R&I," explained Marc Schiltz, President of Science Europe. "This crisis has demonstrated, more than ever, the added value of cooperation - not only between disciplines, but also across sectors, participants and borders," added Helena Pereira, President of FCT's Directive Council.

"Portugal, as the next host of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, is committed to promoting discussions among Europe's leading research organizations to better understand the challenges we face," said Manuel Heitor, Portugal's Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education. "Dealing with the uncertainty, risk and ignorance about the future that the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has so readily warned us about is indeed the outlook of all modern societies and the best we can pass on to future generations. It requires learning more and strengthening collaborative research towards new frontiers of knowledge, promoting better research careers in Europe and thus defending the future of the ERA on the robust and competitive international stage."

"Delving into these questions is increasingly relevant as this new coronavirus moves from animals to humans, and while this is a process that is far from unraveled, we know that zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, have increased due to the pressure that our societies and their economic development put on nature. This is a clear manifestation of the unbalanced influence of human beings on the Earth, also expressed through climate change. At present, the possible scientific demonstration of these relations with the pandemic we now live with requires more knowledge in order to be able to ask more precise and complex questions and better understand the risks we run, as well as evolve in this new geological era of the Anthropocene", Manuel Heitor also highlighted.

Ottoline Leyser, Executive Director of UK Research and Innovation, addressed the evolution of research culture, and Professor Helena Pereira addressed ways to increase collaborative research and multidisciplinary research breaking barriers. The last ministerial session welcomed the participation of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, who presented the European Commission's plan for the new ERA and called for collaboration to achieve this ambitious project. The Commissioner's intervention was followed by interventions from Ministers and senior ministerial officials from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Portugal on developing research policies for a more resilient European society.

The results of this workshop will contribute to the implementation of the research and innovation policy priorities of the German EU Council Presidency (including the expected Council conclusions on ERA) and inform the following Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies.