On 30 September, M. Moedas was presenting his future orientation for research and innovation policy in front of the European Parliament. So who is the new EU Commissioner in charge of the R&I portfolio? And what will be his priorities during his mandate (2014-2019)?
Carlos Moedas is a 44 year old portuguese with a professional background as engineer, economist, banker and politician. He has been in particular a former Portuguese Secretary of State during the implementation of austerity measures in his country. He presents himself as a “true European” explaining that he was one of the first Portuguese students to benefit from an Erasmus Exchange: he went to Paris where he actually met his wife. He also presents himself as an implementation person: “My focus will be delivery, delivery and delivery”. His first mission will be indeed to ensure the effective implementation of two major legislative initiatives already approved: Horizon 2020, the EU programme for R&I and the Innovation Investment Package (namely the €22 billion to be invested jointly by Member States and Europan industries over the next seven years in innovation for sectors that deliver high quality jobs).
On Horizon 2020, his goal is thus“ensuring that the €80 billion Horizon 2020 programme is implemented in the most effective and efficient way”. He refered in particular to the need to reduce the administrative burden for applicants and to pursue the “simplication agenda” for Horizon 2020, an issue that he says will require continuous attention in the next 5 years.
On possible new initiatives to expect under his R&I policy portfolio, he insisted on further development of the European Research Area (ERA), a programme launched to better integrate Europe’s research and innovation efforts. More specifically, he plans to present a roadmap at the end of 2015 and already indicated major bottlenecks he plans to tackle: fragmentation of national research agendas, lack of transparency in recruitment within universities and research institutes as well as the need gender imbalance in science.
He mentionned reflections on developing innovative financing instruments for SMEs as part of his mandate.
On his vision of innovation, Moedas underlined the the importance of results: “Europe is [good] at turning euros into knowledge, but then it's [not good] at turning that knowledge into money, euros, profit”. His mission letter from Jean Claude Juncker insist indeed on “focusing more on applied research with a greater participation of the private sector and a special focus on SMEs”.
Saying that, guaranteing the value of excellence in science and the “creative freedom” of European scientists is also part of his vision. He acknowledged Fundamental Research role as “the stream that leads to the rivers of technology creation”.
On 22 October, MEPs shall confirm him in this new position. And Carlos Moedas will then have until 2019 to prove he is an implementation person.
- Mission letter from Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/about/juncker-commission/docs/moedas_en.pdf
- Hearing in European Parliamant on 29/09/14: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/fr/committees/video?event=20140930-0900-COMMITTEE-HEARING2014CM
- CV: http://www.elections2014.eu/resources/library/media/20140923RES68002/20140923RES68002.pdf