Carlos Moedas, Commissioner in charge of Research, Science and Innovation

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner in charge of Research, Science and Innovation. Image © European Union / Tim De Backer CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Last year, I blogged about the new Research Commissioner, Carlos Moedas, to find out more about his priorities for research and science in the EU. Over the summer period, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to reflect on some of the Commissioner’s priorities and achievements since that time. It has been a full agenda for Moedas, who has taken on his brief energetically, travelling from places such as Jordan to the United States – his travels are well documented on his busy twitter feed! He also visited London in March, where we had the pleasure of welcoming him to the Royal Society to deliver a speech on ‘Science without Borders’.

Science advice has been a key area of focus. The Commission unveiled a new Science Advice Mechanism (SAM for short), which seeks to balance the ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ of science advice, using existing science advisory bodies across and outside the Commission, as well as creating a new structures, such as the high level group of seven scientists (whose composition is yet to be determined). More details about the SAM are due to be released in Autumn 2015.

Research funding, in the context of the European Funding for Strategic Investments (EFSI) has crossed Moedas’ brief. This has been written about here previously, including the science community’s concerns about the European Commission’s proposal to raid the Horizon 2020 budget to fund the guarantee fund of the EFSI. It has now been agreed that funding for the European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Skłodowska – Curie actions will be protected.

The Commissioner has also focused on science diplomacy. Representatives from the Royal Society participated in a Commission conference in Jordan in March on the issue (more on that here). In a speech in Washington, he articulated his vision for EU science diplomacy by saying,

“The EU approach to science diplomacy, I wish to see, is simple. Investing in science and research for its ability to establish unity, as much as for its ability to stimulate intellectual and economic progress. Known in America for a long time, science diplomacy is an emerging term in the EU context, and a recent one at broader international level”.

So, what next? Speaking to Commission Officials before the summer break, the Commissioner outlined his priorities going forward, namely his ‘three Os’: Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World. Various measures reflect these priorities: in June, the Commissioner spoke about the creation of a ‘European Innovation Council’. Other measures across the Commission, such as the Digital Single Market Strategy, dovetail with the open science agenda.

Based on a first busy ten months, we look forward to seeing how the Commissioner develops his research and innovation agenda.