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EIT: Basic agreement likely in June, says Council

A basic agreement on the European Institute of Technology (EIT) can be expected in June, said German Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan following a meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 21 and 22 May. However, she warned that an agreement will ...

A basic agreement on the European Institute of Technology (EIT) can be expected in June, said German Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan following a meeting of the EU Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 21 and 22 May. However, she warned that an agreement will only be possible if the Commission provides further information on how the new body will be financed. At the Council, ministers were in agreement over the general concept of the EIT, which involves the creation of 'Knowledge and Innovation Communities' (KICs), bringing together a range of research organisations. It is likely that in the beginning there will be just two KICs, in the fields of energy and climate change. Further KICs will follow in a second phase once the EIT's activities have been evaluated. Also on the agenda in Brussels was the European research infrastructures roadmap, which was launched last October by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). The ministers welcomed the roadmap and requested that ESFRI continue to update it on a regular basis to ensure it remains in line with the latest scientific and technological developments. With countries outside Europe also working to develop infrastructures, the ministers stressed the importance of implementing the roadmap as soon as possible. At the same time, opportunities for international cooperation on infrastructures should be explored by both the Commission and the Member States, the ministers noted. The Member States were also encouraged to develop their own infrastructure roadmaps and plan for long term investments in research infrastructures. Furthermore, the option of using a combination of regional, national and various European funds to finance infrastructure projects was also highlighted. Speaking after the meeting, European Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik noted that while it was up to Member States to implement the infrastructures, the Commission was committed to helping co-finance the preparatory projects. The first call for proposals for infrastructure projects closed recently, and according to the Commissioner, proposals have been sent in from almost all Member States of the EU. The ministers also discussed the European Research Area Green Paper, and the European Commission presented the proposed Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), on innovative medicine and embedded computer systems (ARTEMIS).

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