French Presidency of the Council of the EU: Recovery, Strength, and a Sense of Belonging

On 1 January 2022, France took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from Slovenia, thus starting a new trio Presidency composed of France, Czech Republic, and Sweden. By choosing the motto ‘Recovery, Strength and a Sense of Belonging’, France conveys its hope to unite EU citizens and to strengthen Europe’s global response to current challenges.

The French Presidency has identified three strategic priorities to guide its six-month programme for higher education, research, and innovation:

  • to stimulate cooperation between higher education, research, innovation, and services to society by promoting an EU knowledge policy;
  • to shape the international dimension of European higher education, research, and innovation policies, to offer appealing academic career opportunities in the EU and to set up major European university campuses;
  • to nurture a sense of belonging in Europe.

If there is one key word that could define the French 6-month strategy for R&I, it would be ‘cooperation’. France takes a broad view by aiming to increase and improve scientific cooperation not only within the EU, but also internationally. As a reaction to some significant 2021 drawbacks for EU’s openness to science cooperation – Switzerland was denied access to Horizon Europe and the UK’s participation as an associated country is yet to be announced – France expressed its ambition to promote balanced R&I cooperation with non-EU countries. One of the main events of the Presidency will be the ‘Conference on International Cooperation for a Global Europe in the Field of Research, Higher Education and Innovation’ in Marseille on 8 and 9 March 2022.

In addition, France presented an ambitious model for economic growth, based on technology sovereignty. In its Presidency programme, they announced backing the building of a European Innovation Area. As a concrete steps towards establishing Europe’s technological sovereignty, the Presidency will organise a conference on ‘Europe as a leader in breakthrough innovation’ on 11 May 2022. The implementation of various European and national instruments at the regional and territorial level will also be addressed during this conference.

Horizon Europe remains a high priority on France’s agenda as the Presidency will ensure the success of its missions by coordinating them at European, national, and local levels. A ‘High-level Conference on Civic Engagement in EU Missions’ will be organised on 21 March 2022 to discuss solutions to current global challenges via the EU Missions of the Horizon Europe programme. In addition, the French Presidency has set as an objective the launch of private-public partnerships under Horizon Europe to take effect during the first six months of 2022.

As a supporter of nuclear power energy, France will extend ongoing initiatives to maintain and develop skills in the field, especially through the Euratom programme.

France will also be committed to pursue the strengthening of the European Research Area (ERA) as further political pledges are needed to achieve its full implementation.

You can have a look at the official website of the French Presidency here.

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