Portugal holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first semester of 2021. The Council Presidency is held on a rotating basis by each EU Member State for periods of six months and entails the coordination of the activities at all levels of the Council, thus ensuring the continuity of the EU’s workplans.
In accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, the three Member States that consecutively hold the Presidency (past, present and future) must work in close cooperation through the so-called “trios” and prepare a common agenda setting out the themes and main issues that the Council will address over an 18-month period. The current Trio, consisting of the Presidencies of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia (having started on 1 July 2020 with the German Presidency, followed by the Portuguese Presidency on 1 January 2021, and ending on 31 December 2021 with the Slovenian Presidency) has jointly developed a common Trio Programme, although each of the Member States has also prepared its own more detailed six-month Programme.
The national priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union 2021 (PPEU21), which integrate the Trio Programme, are the following: a Resilient Europe, a Social Europe, a Green Europe, a Digital Europe, and a Global Europe.
For Research and Innovation (R&I), PPEU21 intends to act at several levels:
- Strengthen R&I in Europe by coordinating efforts and synergies in the European scientific communities, in the context of the European Research Area (ERA), to commonly tackle the global challenges (e.g., COVID-19), strengthening the European R&I systems and promoting more investment in research and development (R&D);
- Revitalise the goal of reaching 3% of GDP for investment in Research by 2030 (2/3 private sector, 1/3 public sector);
- Promote the launch of the Horizon Europe Programme, scheduled for February 2021 in Lisbon, and conclude the regulation for the creation of the new European Partnerships and for the launch of the European Missions;
- Foster the continuity of joint initiatives within the framework of the new ERA, namely on the topics of green hydrogen (from renewable energies), artificial intelligence in the public domain and green supercomputing;
- Contribute to a wider and more diversified access to science and research, allowing for the acquisition of skills by citizens (“citizen science”);
- Launch the debate on the professionalisation of research careers, with their inclusion in the European Reference Framework, aiming for interconnection, mobility and for the revision of the assessment systems, in order to improve the working and salary conditions and to reduce precarity, thus promoting a balanced brain circulation within and outside Europe;
- Highlight EU-Africa cooperation in R&I, in the areas of Space and Higher Education, with an emphasis on the capacity building of institutions and with the aim of avoiding brain drain.
FCT will be working closely on the activities of PPEU21 in two major aspects: (i) technical monitoring of the work of the Council, namely the Research Working Party by providing the necessary support to the Portuguese Permanent Representation to the European Union (REPER) and (ii) co-organising events planned to be hosted under PPEU21. Check the page of events and initiatives carried out by PPUE21 in the area of Research and Innovation (R&I) here.
Regarding the work of the Council many of the activities will be focused on different legislative and non-legislative matters:
- Regulation establishing the specific programme implementing Horizon Europe
- Regulation and new strategic innovation agenda of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
- Euratom and ITER programmes (expected to be closed in the EU Committee of Permanent Representatives)
- Research Fund for Coal and Steel (follow-up of discussions)
- European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC)
- Provisions for the institutionalized European Partnerships (art. 187 TFEU) and Metrology partnership (art. 185 TFEU), depending on the presentation of legislative packages
- Council Conclusions on the New European Research Area (ERA), focusing on research careers
- Debate on Missions, following the European Commission Communication, expected to be launched very soon.
The events to take place under the aegis of PPEU21 around science and technology will be held in compliance with the restrictions in force and monitored by FCT in close articulation with the Mission Structure of PPEU21, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) and other public and private entities. The full list of events will be made available soon. The detailed PPEU21 Programme can be found here. More information on PPEU21 can be found here.