Thursday 28 July 2016

European Commission further strengthens senior management by appointing four Deputy Directors-General

Brussels, 27 July 2016

Today, the European Commission further strengthened its top management by appointing four Deputy Directors-General as of 1 September 2016: Ms Charlina Vitcheva to its Joint Research Centre (DG JRC), Ms Ruxandra Draghia-Akli to its department for Research and Innovation (DG RTD), Mr Mario Campolargo to the Informatics department (DG DIGIT) and Mr Carlos Alegria to its department for Interpretation (DG SCIC).
Ms Charlina Vitcheva, a Bulgarian national, joined the European Commission as a Director in its Regional and Urban Policy department in 2009. Before that, she spent 15 years in the Bulgarian public administration, dealing mainly with agricultural issues. During that period, she was actively involved in the accession negotiations of Bulgaria and headed, between 2000 and 2004, the negotiations team in the area of agriculture and rural development, food safety and fisheries. Ms Vitcheva is currently a Director for Smart and Sustainable Growth and Southern Europe and is supervising the management of EU funds in a number of EU Member States.
Ms Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, a Romanian national, joined the European Commission in 2009 to work in its department for Research and Innovation. Prior to that, she spent nearly 20 years as a medical doctor and a researcher in Romania, France and the US. Her last position was a Vice-President of research of a biotechnology research company. In the Commission, she is currently Director Health in DG Research and Innovation, where she is in charge of a team of some 150 people and a budget of some €1.3 billion annually.
Mr Mario Campolargo, a Portuguese national, joined the European Commission in 1990 after 12 years in telecommunications research. He has spent his entire career in the Commission in the area of information and communication technologies' research and policies. He is currently a Director for Future Networks in the Commission's department for information and communications technologies (DG CONNECT), managing a staff of 110 people and a portfolio of 250 active projects with a €950 million budget.
Mr Carlos Alegria, a Portuguese national, has worked in the European Commission since 1985. He worked as an interpreter for eight and a half years before he switched to management in the area of interpretation. He has been a Director in DG SCIC since 2004, in charge of resources and support since 2011 and was acting Director-General from 2015 until the appointment of Ms Florika Fink-Hooijer as Director-General in June 2016.

Thursday 14 July 2016

Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility - Peer Review of the Moldovan Research and Innovation system

The Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility (PSF) has been set up by the Directorate-General for Research & Innovation (DG RTD) of the European Commission under the EU Framework Programme for Research & Innovation ‘Horizon 2020’.
It supports Member States and countries associated to Horizon 2020 in reforming their national science, technology and innovation systems.
The Peer Review of the Moldovan Research and Innovation system at the basis of this report was carried out between November 2015 and May 2016 by a dedicated PSF panel, consisting of seven independent experts and national peers. The Moldovan national authorities expressed strong political commitment to this exercise.
The PSF panel arrived at a compact set of Policy Messages highlighted upfront in the report, which contains the rationale supporting each of those policy statements and discusses the 24 specific recommendations proposed by the panel, clustered into thematic areas.
Case studies from other countries supplement the narrative by presenting good practice that could facilitate the operational implementation of the panel recommendations.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

A new strategy to put culture at the heart of EU international relations

Brussels, 8 June 2016
Questions and answers

Why has the Commission adopted an EU Strategy for international cultural relations?
In a fast-changing, inter-connected world, cultural relations offer a unique opportunity for improving relations with EU partner countries. Culture is a valuable resource to tackle many of the challenges Europe and the world are currently facing – such as the integration of refugees and migrants, countering violent radicalisation and the protection of cultural heritage.
The potential of the cultural and creative sectors and the economic benefits of cultural exchanges also need to be tapped into to contribute to inclusive growth and job creation in the EU and its partner countries.
Several parties - Member States, the European Parliament and civil society – have called on the High Representative and the European Commission to develop a strategic vision to advance international cultural relations. The call to draw up such a strategy is also underpinned by the Preparatory Action on Culture in EU External Relations, which highlighted the need to implement a new model of cultural cooperation, based on co-operation and peer-to-peer learning.
The global context makes the call for the development of an EU strategy only stronger. Increased cultural cooperation and direct contacts and exchanges between people will contribute to making the EU a stronger global actor, in line with the ninth priority outlined by President Jean-Claude Juncker, reflecting the ambition of the EU's forthcoming Global Strategy.
What are the main objectives of the new strategy?
The EU strategy for international cultural relations will focus on three main objectives:
  • Supporting culture as an engine for social and economic development (p.7)
The economic benefits of cultural exchanges are too often overlooked. Global trade in creative products has more than doubled between 2004 and 2013, despite the global recession. Culture is a central element in the new economy driven by creativity, innovation, digital dimension and access to knowledge. Cultural and creative industries represent around 3% of global GDP and 30 million jobs. In the EU alone these industries account for more than 7 million jobs. In developing countries, UNESCO's Culture for Development Indicators (CDIS) show that culture contributes 1.5% to 5.7% of GDP in low and middle-income countries.
The available data both in developing and developed countries indicate that the cultural sectors may account, depending on the country and scope, for 2% and 7% of GDP respectively, which is more than many other traditional industrial sectors.
The EU strategy for international cultural relations should therefore also become a strategy for inclusive growth and job creation.
  • Promoting intercultural dialogue and the role of culture for peaceful inter-community relations (p.10)
Inter-cultural dialogue, including inter-religious dialogue, is a key tool in promoting the building of fair, peaceful and inclusive societies as well as the value of cultural diversity and respect for human rights. It establishes common ground and a favourable environment for further exchanges.
Inter-cultural dialogue will be promoted through cooperation between cultural operators; peace-building cultural activities; exchanges between young people, students, researchers, scientists and alumni; as well as through cooperation on the protection of cultural heritage.
  • Reinforcing cooperation on cultural heritage (p.11)
Cultural heritage is an important manifestation of cultural diversity that needs to be protected. Rehabilitating and promoting cultural heritage attracts tourism and boosts economic growth. There are many opportunities for joint action with partner countries to develop sustainable strategies for heritage protection through training, skills development and knowledge transfer.
The EU supports research and innovation for cultural heritage. The Commission will contribute to international efforts for the protection of cultural heritage sites and will consider a legislative proposal to regulate the import into the EU of cultural goods. It will also propose to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to organise a European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018.

How will the strategy be implemented and what will the Member States' role be?

The success of the new approach relies on the principle that all stakeholders join forces. Complementarity and synergies between all main players – governments from partner countries at all levels, local cultural organisations and civil society, the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS), EU Member States, and their cultural institutes - are essential.
For the implementation of the Strategy for international cultural relations, the EU can count on its 139 Delegations and Offices operating around the world, which already carry out an enormous number of cultural activities in their host countries. The EU (delegations) will act as an enabler and encourage synergies and cooperation between national cultural institutes and foundations, and private and public enterprises worldwide.
It is therefore important to establish effective partnerships between all these bodies. That is why an EU Cultural Diplomacy Platform was set up in February 2016, focusing on strategic partners. Operated by a consortium of Member States' Cultural Institutes and other partners, the Platform will advise the European Commission and the EEAS on external cultural policy, facilitate networking, carry out activities with cultural stakeholders and develop training programmes for cultural leadership.

Could you give concrete examples of projects to be carried out under the new Strategy?

A pilot project has just been launched to create a global platform (p.13) gathering networks of young cultural entrepreneurs from Europe and partner countries to facilitate exchanges between them. The Creative Europe programme, the main EU financial instrument for culture, is open to neighbourhood and enlargement countries, and the Commission encourages them to join.
The 11th EDF Intra-ACP programme (p.6&7) will support the contribution of cultural industries to the socio-economic development of ACP countries. Another initiative will be launched on intercultural dialogue including local authorities, funded under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI).
In the South Mediterranean, the EU will continue to support the Anna Lindh Foundation (p.11), including the second phase of the Young Arab Voices programme (now enlarged to the EuroMediterranean region) to deepen the dialogue between young leaders and civil society representatives and develop counter-narratives to extremism and violent radicalisation.
In the Eastern Partnership (EaP), the "EaP Culture Programme Phase II" is supporting the cultural and creative sectors’ contribution to sustainable humanitarian, social and economic development. At the same time, the "Community-Led Urban Strategies in Historic Towns" project seeks to stimulate social and economic development by enhancing cultural heritage in 9 historic towns in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
The new Strategy will allow the targeting of specific regions or countries with appropriate actions. For example, the EU Cultural Diplomacy Platform is now exploring possibilities of cultural cooperation with Iran, in particular in the field of cultural heritage. Other ideas are being explored, such as the opening of a House of European Culture in Tehran. Similar projects are being considered for Ukraine.


Friday 8 April 2016

Speech by Commissioner Carlos Moedas in Amsterdam, NL: "Open science: share and succeed"

Amsterdam, 4 April 2016

Carlos Moedas - Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

Last week, The Washington Post published an article about Alexandra Elbakyan, a 27 year old student from Kazakhstan and Founder of Sci-Hub, an online database of nearly 50 million pirated academic journal articles. To some, she is "The Robin Hood of Science." To others, she is a notorious cyber-criminal.
Elbakyan's case raises many questions. To me the most important one is: is this a sign that academic journals will face the same fate as the music and media industries? If so – and there are strong parallels to be drawn − then scientific publishing is about to be transformed.
So, either we open up to a new publishing culture, with new business models, and lead the market... Or we keep things as they are, and let the opportunity pass us by. As I see it, European success now lies in sharing as soon as possible, because the days of "publish or die" are disappearing. The days of open science have arrived.
So today I want to talk to you about:
1. Why open science is a good thing
2. A common vision for open science
3. And what we plan to do next.
In my view, there is a strong economic, scientific and moral case for embracing open science. Which brings me to my first point: why open science is a good thing and one of the 3 core priorities of my mandate.
Let's take the example of open access first of all.
A recent study analysed the economic impact of opening-up research data. Using the example of the European Bioinformatics Institute of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, the study demonstrated that the institute generates a benefit to users and their funders of around 1.3 billion euros per year − just by making scientific information freely available to the global life science community. This is equivalent to more than 20 times the direct operational cost of the institute!
So open access increases the value of public investment in science.  But, more than that, it also contributes to scientific excellence and integrity by: opening up research results to wider analysis, allowing research results to be reused for new discoveries, and enabling the kind of multi-disciplinary research that is increasingly needed to solve global problems in the 21st century.
Then, there is the moral case for open access. I think the public have the right to see the results of the research they have invested in.
In short, open access makes complete sense. It generates income, raises excellence and integrity, and involves the public in what they pay for.  The question is rather how do we make the transition? Who pays and who benefits, and how do we do this together?
This brings me to my second point today, which is my vision for open science.
First, we need open access. Europe must transition from a pay to read to free to read culture. Free doesn't mean no revenue, it just means different revenue. I believe every scientific article from Europe should be open access, for the reasons I mentioned before.
Second, we must clarify copyright. Europe must also transition from legal uncertainty, to a clear legal framework for using data for research: so that researchers are able to reuse and recombine big data − enabling Europe to become a leader of data driven science.
Third, we must create infrastructure. Europe's final transition must be one from fragmented data sets to an integrated European Open Science Cloud. By 2020, we want all European researchers to be able to deposit, access and analyse European scientific data through a European Open Science Cloud.
So what do we need to achieve all this?
Scientific publishing needs to be financially sustainable, so who should pay? The Dutch scientific community has led the way in establishing a new funding arrangement with publishing companies.
This is the kind of new business model that we can all learn from, but one that only works if we remove other barriers to open access. For example, we need to look at how scientific success is measured, and make use of alternative methods that do not rely solely on scientific publications. In Horizon 2020, open access is already mandatory and other funders are beginning to require the same.
Of course, open access naturally leads to researchers reusing data and research results, but often the legal framework for doing so is unclear, or differs from country to country.
So, to answer this need for clarity, the Commission will propose a Copyright Directive that will include research exemptions, and we have introduced specific provisions within the EU Data Protection framework. 
On infrastructure, the Commission will set out an action plan to establish a European Open Science Cloud in the next few days. While I cannot go into details now, I can say that this action plan can only be realised in close partnership with the scientific community, because, together, we can not only generate more scientific collaboration, research and education − but innovations in the fast emerging digital economy as well.
So I welcome your ideas, on all of these ambitions and any others you may have, here today and in the future. And I am inviting you to continue to take part in the development of the European Open Science Agenda.  Help us decide how to provide incentives for open science. Help us reflect on new ways to reward open scientists.  Help us ensure citizen scientists contribute to European Science as valid knowledge producers, by 2020.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that we will soon launch the "Open Science Policy Platform" to advise the Commission on the policy actions required to implement the Open Science Agenda, as well as help with their implementation. We will announce its members at the May 2016 Competitiveness Council.
Only last year, a group of leading international linguists, wanted accessibility to their research results to be independent of expensive commercial publishers. So what did they do?  They left the editorial boards of their academic journals and embarked on a new venture.  They found an open access publisher that could make their dream of low-cost open access into a viable reality. 
So, instead of asking ourselves how to stop the unstoppable… Let's ask ourselves how we're going to make openness work for us. 


Monday 4 April 2016

Centrul Comun de Cercetare (JRC) își deschide bazele de date

Serviciul Comun de Cercetare a făcut accesibilă o mare parte a rezultatelor cercetărilor pe care le efectuează.

La începutul lunii martie curent au fost făcute publice 490 seturi de date, pe care oamenii de știință și dezvoltatorii de aplicații le pot descărca gratuit pentru a le aplica în cercetare sau ideile de afaceri, cu condiția indicării sursei utilizate.

Printre domeniile din Catalogul de date se regăsesc clima, resursele de apă, solul,  pădurile ș.a.

Datele JRC vor fi accesibile și prin intermediul portalului de date deschise  al Comisiei Europene. Acest fapt permite accesul la informații cu privire la investițiile UE în mai mult de 500 de programe de politici în cadrul a opt diviziuni.

Thursday 31 March 2016

RISE - Research, Innovation and Science Policy Experts

The European Commission set up the "Research, Innovation, and Science Policy Experts" (RISE) high level group (HLG) in June 2014, and renewed its mandate and membership in January 2016. The Innovation Union initiative , the Europe 2020 strategy (read also A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth PDF icon) and the Innovation Union flagship initiative (  PDF icon 202 KB ), provide the policy rationale for RISE. The Horizon 2020, 2014-2015 Work Programme PDF icon and 2016-2017 Work Programme PDF icon provide its financing base.

RISE gives direct strategic support to the European Commissioner for research, innovation, and science, Carlos Moedas, and to the European Commission. It focuses on how to best use EU research, innovation, and science policy to address the European growth model and to create the conditions for a different type of growth, a growth that is smart, sustainable, and socially inclusive for the EU and associated countries within a globalized world.

In its new setup, RISE is structured along the three policy priorities of EU Research and Innovation –Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World - with additional reflection on economic impact building on Open Knowledge Markets. This is why the group is divided into sub-groups, delivering on specific topics.

The Open Innovation advisory group of RISE is working in particular on the concept for European Innovation Council, on use of financial instruments for innovation support and on the interplay between regulation and innovation.

The Open Science advisory group works on how to create a culture for OS to flourish, by removing barriers and promoting incentives in research funding, career advancement and publishing, by embedding Open Access, Open Data and Research Integrity.

The Open to the World advisory group works on science diplomacy and international cooperation for global challenges and contributes to deepening of the international dimension across R&I policies.

Finally, the Open Knowledge Markets advisory group works on economic impact of R&I, including new concepts and measuring of innovation and the regulatory framework for research and innovation.

Improving access to finance for Romanian SMEs: EU adopts investment package worth €100 million

The European Commission adopted on March 29, 2016 the "SME Initiative" Operational Programme for Romanian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) 2014-2020, worth €100 million. The value of the investment provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the form of guarantees is expected to quadruple to €400 million, thanks to the leverage effect of private investment in SME loans.

The SME Initiative for Romania is the fifth of its kind to be adopted for 2014-2020, encouraging Member States to make use of this joint initiative, developed by the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group to boost access to finance for Europe's cash-strapped small businesses.

European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu said: "Today Romania joined the group of Member States that want to improve the business environment for SMEs, by pledging 100 million of EU Regional Fund to help finance the small and medium enterprises. In a country where SMEs represent over 99% of the total number of enterprises and face serious needs of external financing, this programme supports them in order to access loan products in better conditions. This Initiative will also enable SMEs to be more innovative and competitive and to grow on regional, national and international markets."

Vasile Dîncu, Romania's Minister of Regional Policy and Public Administration added:

"Targeting one of the critical difficulties for Romanian SMEs – the access to financing and providing a leverage of 4, this innovative tool that is called the SMEs Initiative is intended to be a major booster for competitiveness. This supports SMEs to succeed on the market in order to overcome the first stages of their life-cycles, allowing them to grow – both numerically, but also as dimension and value and, by doing so, to be able to compete internationally. Providing a risk-sharing approach, the SMEs Initiative creates a win-win framework both for SMEs - as loans demand financial intermediaries – and on the loans' supply side, thus supporting the whole business environment. "