Future European Research Policy

An Academia Europaea statement of principles for the Future of Research and innovation policy of the European Union – Forward from 2020.

Academia Europaea wishes to express our strong support for the further development of the European research area and in particular the European Research Council. We express our concern about the July 2020 Council conclusions[1] and the budgetary decision on Research and innovation.

We are of the clear opinion, that ‘armaggedon’ is not on the horizon. Nevertheless, we share the worries expressed by our sister Academy organisations and other related organisations. Member States and the European Parliament should not see research funding as simple tap, to turn on and off when things get difficult. Political short-termism puts at risk the capacity to deliver the essential longer-term research and innovation gain. We are of the strong opinion that the various extant threats we collectively face and the as yet unrealised and to an extent unknown consequential impacts, now more than ever require a steady hand and an increased and substantial active dialogue between policy makers, political agencies and the research and innovation communities. Such an approach will ensure that Europe can maintains its capacity to deliver research and innovation in an effective and prioritised way at whatever level of budget is agreed.

Over past decades, the EU has with the support of the member states and its citizens, made enormous and positive advances in research training and Innovation policy and through consistent increased financing, delivered significant improvements in collaborative research capacity and research excellence across all phases of the research spectrum. The establishing of the European Research Area and its proposed renewal[2] and within it, the creation of Erasmus, Marie Curie, The European Research Council (ERC) and Framework/Horizon programmes, have all severally and collectively made real and significant contributions to our European research, training and innovation capacity. There has been a positive but perhaps unimagined scale of stimulation of collaborative research efforts and cross -cultural community development. These impacts can be seen through the many direct and indirect benefits to European Society across very diverse areas that have flowed out of these very large investments of public money. However, we must not lose sight of the ongoing reality: that even now the majority of investments into research and innovation are those made at national level and which respond to national priorities and communities. It is vital that all member states and those states associated fully to EU programmes continue to see EU level programmatic support as additional and complimentary and not as replacements for their own sound and viable national funding programmes.

The Academia Europaea is pleased to note in particular, that the development of the ERC has perhaps been the singular policy innovation with the highest recognition and impact on the landscape of European research. This model institution must be nurtured and further developed for future generations.

The Academia Europaea now takes this opportunity to re-state in a positive way, some of the underlying and critical policy objectives that the next budgetary frame should be focussed to deliver. Whatever the final political outcomes are in terms of budgetary decisions, these priorities must stay as guiding tenets to inform the future, provide the community with a balanced and equitable distribution of resources and condition the content and priorities for research and innovation that support European societal needs. We should all agree that the overall objective of publicly funded, collective European Research and Innovation actions must be to contribute towards delivery of resilience, security and sustainable economic prosperity for all of European society and in addition, must contribute towards the most urgent priorities that underpin a sustainable future for our common home.

We see the following as guiding tenets for EU level research and innovation policy in the next financial framework:

  • Ensure the most efficient and effective application of public resources in support of the whole chain of research and innovation for the longer-term.
  • Ensure that support for future generations is deployed through the most effective training; education and research support schemes and in particular addresses regional inequalities of opportunity.
  • Ensure a continuing effort to put European fundamental research capacity at the global forefront of excellence. Fully support the ERC to target and develop the best in terms of research and innovation capacity and support those in less research-intensive regions through relevant channels to achieve the best.
  • Focus the priorities for EU research and innovation policy on effective and efficient knowledge and innovation activity that responds to future societal needs and on the delivery of an anticipative capacity that can mitigate future risks in a timely, equitable and sustainable way.

The Academia Europaea feels confident that the institutions of the European Union will collectively recognise that whatever the detailed budgetary debates may be, a collective and substantial EU -level investment in common research, education and training public investment is beneficial for the whole of Europe. We therefore strongly urge Member States, to take real steps to achieve effective co-ordination through co-operation of their national investments in R & I with the EU level investment. Effective implementation of the new European Research Area policy and programme is a priority. The AE wishes to emphasise, that the ERC and its support instruments having achieved an unparalleled global recognition as a guarantee for excellence in research innovation must see the resources allocated to the instruments of the ERC at the Horizon 2020 levels – as a minimum.

Published under the authority of the Board of trustees of the Academia Europaea
21 October 2020

[1] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/07/21/european-council-conclusions-17-21-july-2020/
[2] https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/strategy/era_en#revitalising-era-timeline

Lecture on Plan S and the European Research Council

Open access is highlighted as the new opportunity to make research publications available to all interested parties, regardless of expensive subscriptions. In Plan S, the Research Council of Norway has demanded full and immediate open publication for announcements from 2021. At the same time, this policy is accused of being a threat to academic freedom, scientific quality and the rights of researchers. Why is the debate over Open Access and Plan S so polarized? And does it look the same in all subject areas?

This debate meeting was arranged on 6 October 2020 by the Research Ethics Committee at the Norwegian Academy of Sciences.

Making the transition to sustainable food

The shift to a more sustainable food system is inevitable. Here’s how to make it happen.


Europe’s top scientists agree that a radical change is coming in how we produce and distribute food, to ensure food security and deliver healthy diets for all.

Now a new report from SAPEA lays out the social science evidence on how that transition can happen in an inclusive, just and timely way.

The Evidence Review Report ‘A sustainable food system for the European Union’ provides an evidence base for the scientific opinion of the European Commission’s Chief Scientific Advisors. It was written by a multidisciplinary group of leading scientists, nominated by academies across Europe.

Based on the best available evidence and supported by a detailed systematic review, the report concludes that the key steps towards the new model are not only to reduce food waste and to change our consumption patterns — but also to recontextualise how we think about food in the first place.

Professor Peter Jackson, the chair of the working group that wrote the report, said:

“Food is an incredibly complex system, with social, economic and ecological components. Yet, it contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and plays a key role in driving climate change. The food system is responsible for around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates the annual financial cost of wasted food to be €900 billion in economic costs and an additional €800 billion in social costs. That’s why ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option.

“Our report doesn’t stop at highlighting the problems, which are now widely recognised. It also provides a range of evidence-based examples about how the transition to a sustainable food system can happen.”

Fish to Mars, science opera at SDG Bergen 2020

February 5, 2020. 18:00-19:00. Teglverket, The Academic Quarter (Kvarteret), Olav Kyrres gate 49.

Fish to Mars is a unique collaboration, where true science meets true Norwegian metal with the goal of making an entire opera.

Metal music and marine research are inserted into the original story by author Peter Watts, the sci-fi writer known for keeping the underlying research correct.

This performance is part of Day Zero of the SDG conference and is open to all.

Our common future ocean in a changing climate

February 5, 2020. 13:00-14:30. Egget (The Egg), Studentsenteret, Parkveien 1, Bergen, Norway.

Oceans cover 70% of the Earths’ surface, produce over 50% of the world’s oxygen, regulate our weather and climate patterns, and provides energy, food, medicine, and recreation. However, this invaluable shared resource is under threat due to human-induced ocean warming and acidification, expansion of oceanic dead zones, and unsustainable fishing. Safeguarding our common ocean for future generations is a shared responsibility and a matter of global urgency.

Arctic Frontiers Science Poster – Knowledge-based development in the Arctic

January 28, 2020. 16:00. Arbeidskontoret room, Clarion Hotel the Edge, Tromsö, Norway

The AE Bergen Knowledge Hub, an associated partner of Artic Frontiers, is organizing a Poster presentation at the Arctic Frontiers Science Poster – Knowledge-based development in the Arctic:
Making sense of science for policy under conditions of complexity and uncertainty – MASOS

Science advice for policy: who asks, who gives, and who listens?

January 27, 2020. 18:15 – 19:15. Clarion Hotel the Edge, Tromsö, Norway.

Starting from 2020, Academia Europaea Bergen Knowledge Hub is an associated partner of Arctic Frontiers.

In this event we will bring together a panel with experience from science advice, policy making and NGOs. Are there sufficient mechanisms available in Norway and other countries to ensure that political decisions are based on the best available and independent scientific knowledge? What are the specific needs in an Arctic context? The panel will debate challenges and knowledge gaps relevant to the radical changes needed in order to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what systems need to be in place for policy to be anchored in scientific evidence and scientific thinking.

Joint ERC/REA Seminar on Science Diplomacy

January 16-18, 2020. Covent Garden, 25th floor auditorium, London, also streamed online.

The seminar will bring together researchers supported by the European Research Council (ERC) and the Research Executive Agency (REA). The event will provide a forum for exchange between EC-funded researchers, interested stakeholders and EU staff on the role of science in and for diplomacy.

Also follow the 20 min YouTube live prior to the seminar on Thursday 16/1/2020 at 10 AM

Science Diplomacy and Climate Change: A conversation with Eystein Jansen and Halvard Buhaug


Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Cardiff’s Norwegian Church

The Norwegian Church, located in Cardiff Bay, celebrated it’s 150th Anniversary on Sunday 15th December. AE Cardiff supported this special commemorative event.

The Programme

The programme included:

  • a church service with a reprisal of the first sermon given at the Norwegian Church 150 years ago
  • a series of talks supported by the University of Bergen, Cardiff University, Hordaland Council and the Welsh Norwegian Society including the Roald Dahl story and the ancient links between languages
  • a concert with performances from visiting Norwegian musicians Eir Inderhaug, Stian Okland and Marina Kan Selvik
  • Foods inspired by Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes.
  • Read more at the Academia Europaea Cardiff pages