The competent ministers of the Western Balkan Six have called for allocating 3% of the Horizon Europe instrument of the European Commission, a research and innovation funding program worth EUR 100 billion, to the region to the end of narrowing the gap between the EU and the WB in this field.
Following the conclusions of the meeting of the Western Balkans Working Group on Research and Development (R&D) that took place in Brussels on June 13, 2018, the ministries responsible for science of the Western Balkan Six prepared and issued an initial statement on the Western Balkans participation in the Horizon Europe, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) announced.
Without undermining the excellence criteria in the selection of all Horizon Europe projects we call for a balanced geographical spread of research and innovation investment across Europe, including to the Western Balkans as an accession region. To help deliver on the promise of the “Sharing Excellence”, we call for allocating 3% of this instrument, says the Western Balkans initial statement.
The region, it is added, welcomes the emphasis placed on innovation, also encouraging innovation including both types of innovation - evolutionary and revolutionary, to ensure that businesses and research institutions across Europe can use the envisaged innovation instruments for strategic growth and job creation.
The research and innovation gap between the EU and the WB, it is said, continues to grow. Therefore, closing it is essential to ensuring development of excellence in science and high-quality, research-led education.
Excellence in science and research is essential to changing the growth model of the WB to an innovation led, value-added, knowledge economy.
It would contribute to closing the economic divide between Western Balkan and the European Union and ensure that the WB6 is ready to meet the competitiveness pressures of EU membership.
– Horizon Europe is a key instrument, which can enable Western Balkan researches to cooperate in world class research and with leading research institutions from EU member states. However, Western Balkan economies face capacity challenges to compete on an equal footing with EU member states with larger, well-funded, excellent research systems – said Vanja Ivosevic, RCC’s Senior Expert on Skills and Mobility.
Ivosevic added that there were additional measures which the EU institutions and the Member States could take to address some of the challenges Western Balkans have and share with some of the new EU member states, reiterating that the RCC stands ready to facilitate the process of preparing a joint position on Horizon Europe and would support the lobbying efforts of the Western Balkan governments.
The preparation of the Statement has been facilitated by the Regional Cooperation Council which was tasked to communicate the Statement to the relevant European Institutions, in an attempt of the region to join efforts in lobbying towards the EU institutions and EU Member States.
The Horizon Europe program aims at strengthening the EU's scientific and technological bases for seven years period (2021-2027), to boost Europe's innovation capacity, competitiveness and jobs, to deliver on citizens' priorities and sustain the European socio-economic model and values.
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