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University Alliance Stockholm Trio's Brussels office ready for new EU Commission

A man sitting by a white writing desk with a computer in front of him.
Dan Andrée, senior advisor at the university alliance's office in Brussels. Photo: Aida Schievelbein.
Published May 03, 2024

How is the University Alliance Stockholm Trio working to influence the EU's research agenda, and what potential impact will the EU election have on research and education in Europe? We asked Dan Andrée, senior advisor at the university alliance's office in Brussels, three questions.

What significance does the EU election have for research and education in Sweden and Europe?

– After the election, the European Parliament will vote to approve a new president of the European Commission and then all the commissioners. A new research commissioner could play a critical role in shaping the EU's next framework programme for research and innovation, FP10. For instance, whether the focus will be on excellence or if the investments will be more evenly distributed across the entire EU. However, the direction of the framework programme is primarily determined at a higher level based on the new EU Commission's priorities for the coming period. The EU election could affect whether there will be continued prioritisation of green transition and digitalisation, where the EU framework programme for research and innovation is one of the most important tools to drive this work.

The new EU Commission will present a proposal for the upcoming research and innovation framework programme 2028-2034, FP10, in mid-2025. The new EU Parliament, together with the European Council, will handle the negotiations.

The EU Commissioner for research and innovation is usually not at the top of the EU Parliament's agenda, which has both advantages and disadvantages. The reason research does not feature more prominently on the EU agenda may partly be because it is generally not a controversial issue; there is widespread support for research across traditional parties, irrespective of party affiliation. The EU Parliament has consistently argued for increased funding for research, so hopefully, this will continue.

What is the University Alliance Stockholm Trio doing in Brussels to influence the EU Commission's work on research and innovation?

– Our Brussels office is responsible for creating and maintaining networks in Brussels that promote research, education, and innovation. The most significant networks are the EU Commission's Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG Research and Innovation) and UnILiON . Through these channels, we receive important information that we can send home, and it is also through these networks that we can act proactively and influence.

Regarding FP10, the University Alliance Stockholm Trio developed a position in February 2023 that has gained wide distribution, including through an opinion piece in Science Business  that proposes an increase of investments in collaborative pre-competitive research and innovation. Interdisciplinarity is also emphasized as an important component of the next EU framework programme for research and innovation. There is a risk today that politicians want short-term effects from the framework programme by primarily supporting research projects with a high Technology Readiness Level (TRL). Although these investments are important, we also need to increase investments in collaborative research in the earlier phases of technology development to lay the ground for future innovations.

What support does the Brussels office offer researchers at Karolinska Institutet, KTH and Stockholm University?

– The Brussels office shares space with the Stockholm region's Europe office and includes two representatives and an intern. Each university also has an advisor in Stockholm employed at its respective research support office. The advisors in Stockholm are responsible for disseminating information from Brussels in Stockholm and also contribute significantly to the activities in Brussels.

Thanks to the presence of the University Alliance in Brussels and our networks and contacts, including the Swedish EU representation, the European Commission, and offices of other universities, we can obtain early information and send it back home. This enables Karolinska Institutet, KTH, and Stockholm University to act proactively and be well-prepared for new developments. This includes new policy initiatives, for which the Brussels office indicates when it is appropriate to provide input and contribute to their design.

The Brussels office also sends home drafts of calls for proposals, enabling researchers to better prepare and provide input. Each autumn, the Brussels office organises an EU course for researchers from Karolinska Institutet, KTH, and Stockholm University. The course is designed to enhance the researchers' understanding of the EU with a focus on research and innovation, and to improve their readiness to participate in Horizon Europe and other initiatives. The course has been very well received. Researchers and colleagues visiting Brussels are always welcome to visit us!

Seminar May 29 at KTH campus on the EU's framework program for research and innovation

Facts about University Alliance Stockholm Trio´s Brussels office

The Brussels office is part of the University Alliance Stockholm Trio, which was formed by Karolinska Institute, KTH, and Stockholm University in 2019 with the aim of developing and elevating the internationally prominent research and education environment that the three universities form in the Stockholm region.

Contact Stockholm Trio's Brussels office

Dan Andrée:  Senior Advisor, Brussels Office
Johan Schuber:  EU Policy Officer, Brussels Office.

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Last changed: May 03, 2024