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60 Nordic universities promoting research and innovation in Brussels

Ambassador Fife - Photo:Mission of Norway to the EU

Just short of 60 university leaders from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden met in Brussels to demonstrate their joint commitment to the future of European research and innovation.

On the 9 and 10th of September, the Nordic University Days gathered a record high number of rectors and other university leaders in Brussels. The delegation met with newly elected Nordic members of the European Parliament and representatives of the European Commission.

Important higher education institutions

A timely and highly relevant visit, according to Norway’s ambassador to the EU, Rolf Einar Fife.

"It is a pleasure to see that also between the academic institutions, the Nordic countries join efforts on the European arena, Fife said when hosting the delegation at Norway House"

He also highlighted the important work on the development of the next framework programme for research and innovation, Horizon Europe, and the next Erasmus+ programme for education and training. Both are important to Nordic higher education institutions. The Nordic countries are one of the most knowledge intensive regions in the world and benefit largely from EU programmes.

Concerns regarding future investment

2019 has been, and still is a year of major changes in the EU. A new European Parliament has been inaugurated, a new Commission is expected to take office later this fall, and the outcome of Brexit is still unclear. The EU’s future investment in science and innovation, as well as the consequence of the UK leaving the EU are some of the concerns raised by the Nordic universities.

Rector and chairman Olsen argued that one should never compromise on the quality of research and higher education. Photo: Mission of Norway to the EU

Rector at the University of Bergen (UiB) and chairman of Universities Norway (UHR), Dag Rune Olsen argued that it is crucial to increase the research budget and he supported that Horizon Europe is provided the 100 billion euros suggested by the Commission.

"Our universities have never been more important than today in educating younger generations and providing solutions to challenges in our society. That is why we can never compromise on the quality of research and higher education", he said.

Meeting EU representatives

To get a greater insight into the changes and developments happening, the delegation met with both incoming and outgoing EU representatives. On 9 September meetings with Jean-Eric Paquet, director general of DG Research and Innovation, and Georg Riekeles, diplomatic adviser and member of the Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the UK. The topics up for discussion were Horizon Europe, the impact of different Brexit outcomes and future cooperation with universities in the United Kingdom.

On 10 September, the state of play in the EU was the main topic when the delegation met with Carlos Moedas, outgoing Commissioner for research, science and innovation, and Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union, as well as Danish, Finnish and Swedish Members of the European Parliament.

Three wishes

Jyrki Katainen, current Vice President of the European Commission shared his wishes on future research and innovation in Europe during the event at Norway House.


To invest in artificial intelligence, circular economy and high quality education is Katainen’s wish to the new Commission. Photo: Mission of Norway to the EU

"I have three wishes for the new Commission. The first one is to invest in artificial intelligence. The second is to focus on circular economy. They are both megatrends that will be shaping human lives and society in the coming years. The third is to prioritize high quality education. There are still people that cannot write or read in Europe, and that is a big problem", Katainen said.

More information on Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe and Erasmus+:

https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/what-horizon-2020

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8BQNnX6_kY&feature=youtu.be

https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/about_en