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Protection of Higher Education Institutions and research organisations against conventional and non-conventional threats

The EU Higher Education Institutions and research organisations continue to face serious threats, such as to academic freedom, freedom of research and institutional autonomy, as well as increasing distrust in science and scientific experts, next to various forms of foreign interference. In addition, acute threats increasingly take non-conventional forms, such as cyber-attacks, infiltration or disinformation campaigns. These actions seek to access research findings, destabilise and endanger our higher education and research institutions and undermine our fundamental European values. To respond to these threats, the EU Higher Education Institutions and research organisations need to boost significantly their capacities in detecting and tackling these threats and they need to be well informed and geared with simple and effective tools ensuring security while respecting the openness of research and innovation. Given the very nature of the topic, continued exchange with member states and relevant stakeholders is necessary in order to expand the knowledge of conventional and non-conventional threats to Higher Education Institutions and research organisation, and develop appropriate actions.

Proposals are expected to: (i) analyse possible threats and identify mitigation measures; (ii) increase awareness of threats within higher education institutions and research organisations; (iii) promote networking and optimising of infrastructure and resources to ensure adequate preparedness and prevention at European level.

In the framework of the new ERA, this action should also complement and reinforce EU action for academic freedom as well as the European Pact for Research and Innovation, which aims at deepening the implementation of the new ERA’s objectives, setting out commonly agreed values and principles and indicating the areas where Member States will jointly develop priority actions.