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Countering the COVID-19 crisis in education and training: Council adopts conclusions

Innovation receives €314 million to combat Covid-19 and support recovery

On 16 June, the Council of the European Union adopted conclusions acknowledging the main challenges in the education and training systems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the immediate responses by the EU member states. They invite member states to examine possibilities for innovation and accelerated digital transformation, and for further development of teachers' and trainers' digital skills and competences. 

Taking into account the pandemic's impact on education and training across the EU, the conclusions also invite member states to continue to share information, experiences and best practices on how education and training systems can best adapt to the situation, depending on further developments related to the COVID-19 crisis.  

Read more here.

The Commission has awarded nearly €166 million to 36 companies through the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot to combat the pandemic through pioneering projects. Another 36 companies have been granted more than €148 million to contribute to the recovery plan, bringing the total financing to €314 million. Among other sectors and projects, the companies will develop stronger wind turbine towers, an organic fertilizer production system and a blockchain-based solution for sustainable recycling. Commissioner Mariya Gabriel says the EIC response demonstrated the agility of EU funding. Close to 4000 start-ups and SMEs applied to the Accelerator Pilot in March.  

Read more here.

Increased budget for research and innovation?

Decreased in the budget proposal for Erasmus+

The Commission proposed to allocate €94.4 billion to the new research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe. The increased Horizon number is part of the €1.85 trillion, seven-year EU budget plan to recover from the pandemic. However, Brussels politicians interpret the new proposal very differently - adjusting for inflation or not. The plan promotes R&I as vital to the recovery. According to Paul Webb, head of unit for budget and long-term budget synergies at the Commission, no recovery money will reach research and mobility such as the European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA). Considering Brexit, the ERC and MSCA budgets are increased in the new EU27 budget proposal. The Commission aims to start Horizon Europe as scheduled in January 2021. 

Horizon Europe

In the revised proposal for a Multiannual financial framework, the European Commission proposes a budget of € 24,6 billion for Erasmus+, the EU programme for education, training, youth, and sports. This is less than what the European Commission announced in 2018 (30 billion euros), but higher than the one put forward by the European Council in February 2020 (21, 2 billion euros). The revised budget for Erasmus+ has been criticised by, among others, the European Parliament's Culture and Education Committee (CULT), as well as by the European Student Network (ESN).

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