Ms Ivanova was nominated to replace Mariya Gabriel, who resigned on 15 May to become Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Bulgaria.
During her introductory speech, Commissioner-designate Iliana Ivanova presented her priorities to invest in research and innovation in the EU, boosting skills, promoting the cohesive role of culture and empowering youth. The EU is a scientific powerhouse, she underlined, however the landscape remains “fragmented” and investments are below the target of 3% of GDP and behind global competitors. She vowed to do the utmost to support the Horizon Europe programme as a tool to ensure that Europe can be “a trailblazer at global level” and attract more resources, including through partnerships, and to facilitate access to funding for SMEs.
In order for the EU to reach its full potential, the Commissioner-designate said it is essential to invest more in having diverse talent, skills and education. She called for programmes to be made available to partner countries, for targeted initiatives to increase gender inclusion, including in sport, and completing the EU Education Area. Ms Ivanova also stressed that sport is an important asset for EU cohesion as well as a tool to support European values and the mental health of young people.
Questions by MEPs
MEPs posed several questions on how to improve Horizon Europe, its budget, efficiency and transparency, and how it should be adapted to new challenges without jeopardizing existing priorities. MEPs also asked how member states and regions could be helped to achieve better results within the programme, and how to ensure that the allocated funding fully benefits taxpayers.
Members also asked the Commissioner-designate to improve gender equality, in particular in sport. Other MEPs called for ways to be found to incentivise member states to reach the 3% research target.
Academic freedom in Europe, the proposed cuts to the Creative Europe budget and current gaps in the access to EU mobility programmes due to costs were also raised by MEPs. They questioned the Commissioner-designate on plans to retain young research talent in Europe, ways to address racism and xenophobia in Europe via tools of education as well as on red tape preventing access to the EU’s education and culture programmes.
You can watch the full hearing again here.
At the end of the hearing, Sabine VERHEYEN, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education, and Cristian-Silviu BUŞOI, Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, held a press point outside the meeting room: watch it here.
Based on the committees’ recommendations and the assessment by the Conference of Committee Chairs, the Conference of Presidents will conduct the final evaluation on 6 September and decide whether to close the hearing process and hold a vote during the September plenary session.