26 May 2023 News

The EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth tendered her resignation and accepted a mandate to form a new government in Bulgaria

On Monday, May 15, Mariya Gabriel, who has served as the EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth since 2019, tendered her resignation. She has accepted a mandate to form a new government in Bulgaria, and her departure marks the end of her tenure in the European Commission. The International Consortium of Research Staff Associations (ICoRSA) congratulates her and wishes her success in her new role.

Gabriel’s extensive experience and knowledge of the democratic processes within the European Union (EU) are expected to greatly benefit Bulgaria, as well as the EU as a whole. Her dedication and commitment to advancing various aspects of her large portfolio, particularly in improving the situation of early career researchers, have been recognized and appreciated by ICoRSA. In light of her departure, ICoRSA urges the President and Vice-Presidents of the European Commission to ensure the continuity of research and innovation (R&I) programs and maintain the priority initiative of developing a Researcher Career Framework.

Following Gabriel’s resignation, ICoRSA welcomes the appointment of Executive Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Margarítis Schinás by President Ursula von der Leyen. Vestager will oversee innovation and research, while Schinás will be responsible for education, culture, and youth. ICoRSA along with the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE) encourages both Vice Presidents to build upon Gabriel’s initiatives, particularly the establishment of a dedicated Framework for researchers’ careers in Horizon Europe. Furthermore, ICoRSA advocates for the creation of an independent European Research & Innovation Careers Observatory, which will monitor research career paths and provide factual data to inform evidence-based decision-making. Urgent actions are needed to address the challenges faced by early career researchers, and ICoRSA emphasizes the importance of implementing a pilot program as soon as possible.

Additionally, ICoRSA along with the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE) highlights four key concerns that require attention. Firstly, specific funding schemes for widening participation should be simplified and better promoted. Mechanisms should be put in place to enable researchers from widening countries to participate in all higher education pillars, rather than confining them solely to low-budget programs. Secondly, collaborative academic basic research should be considered an essential component of R&I actions in all funding schemes and mechanisms, including public-private partnerships, as it plays a crucial role in addressing global challenges. Thirdly, the MSCA (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions) and ERC (European Research Council) programs, which are instrumental in elevating excellence in Europe and supporting investigator-driven groundbreaking research, must be safeguarded from budgetary cuts. Lastly, while the goals of the Horizon Europe programs are set by EU policymakers, ICoRSA asserts that beneficiaries should be entrusted with choosing the most effective pathways to achieve those goals while ensuring accountability for their actions.

As the European Commission undergoes a transition in leadership, it is vital to maintain a strong focus on research and innovation, ensuring the continuity of existing programs and advancing new initiatives that support the careers of researchers. ICoRSA remains committed to advocating for the interests of the research community and is proud to be a lead partner in the new Horizon Europe ERA 50 project called SECURE (Sustainable Careers for Researcher Empowerment).

ICoRSA looks forward to collaborating with the new leadership to foster a thriving research environment in Europe.