Competitiveness Council (Research) 

 

The Competitiveness Council encompasses issues concerning the internal market, industry, research and space. It meets normally six times per year, with two of these meetings being informal. The Competitiveness Council ensures a coordinated approach across different policies impacting on Europe’s economic growth and competitiveness.

 

The Malta Council for Science and Technology provides technical input to the preparation for Malta’s participation in the research and space parts of the Competitiveness Council and generally also provides technical support during the meetings. Malta is represented at the research part of the Competitiveness Council by the Minister responsible for research or an alternate high level delegate. The website of the Competitiveness Council can be accessed by clicking this link.

 

 

Research Working Party 

 

Working Parties are the more technical forums for discussion and possible agreement on various texts before these reach higher levels, namely COREPER and Council. Working parties are where much of the preparatory groundwork for the Council takes place, with the aim of achieving consensus on texts which are then presented for endorsement by the Council. The Research Working Party handles matters in the research and innovation area, including legislation, before they are discussed in the Competitiveness Council meetings.

 

It mainly focuses on:

 

• European research framework programmes and other European research and innovation-related instruments • European Research Area (ERA) and general framework conditions for European research • International agreements in the area of research, science and technology

 

 

Research / Atomic Working Party 

 

 

This working party negotiates research related to issues under the European Atomic Energy Community Treaty (EURATOM). Specifically, it deals with:

 

  • International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor ITER project, a large-scale scientific experiment that aims to demonstrate the technological and scientific feasibility of fusion energy
  • international cooperation agreements with non-EU countries on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, nuclear safety and security research and research into fusion energy

 

Space Working Party 

 

 

The Space Working Party (SWP) is the technical forum within the Council where the Space Policy initiatives and issues are discussed. Like other working parties the SWP is made up Attaches of the Member States who are normally resident in Brussels.  MCST role is to support the Maltese attaché in the meeting among others, by vetting the documents, provide technical advice, drafting of regular Instruction Note for each meetings and others.   Depending on the importance of the meeting, MCST personnel also attend the SWP as experts.

 

Latest information on the SWP, particularly and the latest meeting can be found at https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/preparatory-bodies/working-party-space/.

 

 

European Research Area Committee (ERAC)

 

The European Research and Innovation Area Committee is an advisory body to the Council, the Commission and the Member States whose aim is providing strategic and timely advice. ERAC replaces the former CREST (Scientific and Technical Research Committee). ERAC’s mandate was approved by the Competitiveness Council in May 2010.

 

Malta’s delegate to ERAC is Ms Jacqueline Grech (jacqueline.b.grech@gov.mt)and Mr Johann Caruana (johann.a.caruana@gov.mt), whilst the alternate delegates are Ms Ramona Saliba Scerri (ramona.saliba-scerri@gov.mt) and Dr Ing. Richard Blundell (richard.blundell@gov.mt).

 

 

The ERAC website can be accessed by clicking this link

 

 Steering Group on Human Resources and Mobility

 

The SWG on HRM replaced the former Steering Group on Human Resources and Mobility (SGHRM), which has been active since 2002 and is tasked with the responsibility to promote, monitor and report on the implementation of the Researchers’ Partnership at EU and national levels and on other ongoing researchers-related activities (e.g. EURAXESS activities, the European Charter and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, and the “Scientific Visa”). The SGHRM was a Commission Expert Group, however in 2017 an exercise was carried out to re-structure all ERA-related groups under ERAC’s advisory role to Council formation, which led to the new SWG on HRM. The group is now chaired by elected Member State representatives.

 

 

ERAC Standing Working Group (SWG) on Open Science and Innovation (OSI) 

 

This group, set-up in 2016, is the successor of the ERAC Working Group on Knowledge Transfer and focuses on providing advice and opinion regarding policies and initiatives with the aim of enhancing access to scientific information, the exploitation of scientific results and circulation of knowledge for the benefit of scientists, research institutions, education, businesses, citizens and society at large.  Among others this group was very active in discussing the established of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

 

Malta’s delegates to this group are Dr Ing. Richard Blundell (richard.blundell@gov.mt) and Mr Kevin J. Ellul

 

High Level Group on Joint Programming (GPC)

 

The GPC was set up as a dedicated configuration of ERAC with the aim of identifying topics for joint programming of research initiatives and the formulation of framework conditions for these. The rationale for this effort lies in the need to capitalize on different countries’ resources and strengths and pool together knowledge and resources to address major societal challenges, such as food security, climate change and water.

 

Malta’s delegates to the GPC are Ms Corinne Muscat Terribile (corinne.muscat-terribile@gov.mt) and Ms. Glorianne Camilleri (glorianne.b.camilleri@gov.mt).

 

Strategic Forum on International Cooperation (SFIC)

 

The Strategic Forum for International S&T Cooperation (SFIC) is an advisory group consisting of representatives of the EU Commission, EU Member States (Members) and Associated States (Observers). It advises both the Council and the Commission on international cooperation matters in the ambit of S&T. The main tasks of SFIC include:

  •  Setting priorities for international and innovation cooperation, on the one hand by using a long-term strategy and on the other hand by employing concrete activities
  • Identifying research and innovation strengths in Europe to meet global challenges
  • Acting as agent and coordinator between commission and member states
  • Fostering horizontal policy coordination at National and European level
  • Driving mutual exchange and enabling learning from each other

SFIC also contributes to the internationalisation of the European Research Area. It is here that the EU Commission, the EU Member States and the Associated States to the EU Research Framework Programmes exchange their views on international research and innovation activities and seek to pool them in a meaningful way.

 

Malta’s delegates to the SFIC are Ms. Glorianne Camilleri (glorianne.b.camilleri@gov.mt) and Mr. Ian Gauci Borda (ian.a.gauci-borda@gov.mt).

 

 The Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation (SWG on GRI)

 

The SWG on GRI, previously known as “The Helsinki Group” was established in 1999. It brings together representatives from Member States and Associated Countries, to promote equality between women and men in research and innovation (R&I) and to embed the gender dimension in science, research and innovation contents and programmes. The SWG on GRI is now re-structured as an ERA-related group falling under ERAC’s advisory role to Council formation.

 

Malta’s delegates to this group are Dr Jennifer Cassingena Harper (jennifer.harper@gov.mt) and Ms Jacqueline Grech (jacqueline.b.grech@gov.mt).

 

European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures Committee (ESFRI)

 

ESFRI was set up in 2002 by the Competitiveness Council, initially for informal consultations on strategic issues related to Research Infrastructures. In 2006 a list of 35 Research Infrastructure proposals was presented by ESFRI in a roadmap for research infrastructures in Europe. This roadmap was updated to 44 proposals in 2008. Further updates were undertaken in 2010 and 2016.  The latest ESFRI roadmap has been published in September 2018, and can be accessed from https://www.esfri.eu/roadmap-2018.

 

Malta’s lead delegate to ESFRI is Dr. Ing. Richard Blundell (richard.blundell@gov.mt) and the alternate delegate is Dr Elena Sultana (elena.sultana@gov.mt).

 

More information can be found on the ESFRI website which can be accessed on https://www.esfri.eu/.

 

European Research Infrastructures Consortium Committee (ERIC) 

 

The ERIC Committee was set up by Article 20 of Council Regulation 723/2009 This regulation seeks to facilitate the joint establishment and operation of European research facilities while enjoying many of the advantages and tax exemptions applicable to international organizations. Members of an ERIC can be states and intergovernmental organizations. At least three Member States must agree to establish and operate together a Research Infrastructure. The members of an ERIC establish statutes ruling governance, IPR policy, financing of the ERIC.

 

Malta’s delegates to the ERIC Committee are Dr. Ing. Richard Blundell (richard.blundell@gov.mt) and Dr Elena Sultana (elena.sultana@gov.mt).   Malta currently participates in the BBRMI ERIC and DARIAH ERIC

 

Although not a participating member, in the last years, Malta has also collaborated with the SHARE ERIC

 

Open Access National Reference Point Group

 

Open Access means unrestricted access to scientific information via the internet. The objective of Open Access is to make scientific literature and data easily and quickly accessible for users, as well as to provide this information free of charge. It also should prevent duplication of research efforts and enhance opportunities for multi-disciplinary research, as well as inter-institutional and inter-sectorial collaborations.

 

A world-wide active debate on the economics and reliability of various ways of providing open access among stakeholders started in the 1990s and is still continuing. In Horizon 2020, Open Access is supported as a tool to facilitate and improve the circulation of information in the European Research Area. It has therefore been anchored as an underlying principle in the Horizon 2020 Regulation and the Rules of Participation.

 

Board of Governors of the Joint Research Centre

 

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) Board of Governors advises the Director-General and the Commission on matters relating to the strategic role of the JRC and its scientific, technical and financial management. It is composed of high level representatives from EU Member States and FP7 Associated States. The JRC Board individual members have also an important role in representing the interests of the JRC in their own country.

 

Group of Senior Officials for the Mediterranean (former Group of Senior Officials for the Mediterranean – MoCo)

 

The EU-Med GSO is a forum which brings together Senior Official representatives from the Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC) and the EU Member States and Associated Countries, responsible for RTD issues. It was established in the context of a Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and of the follow-up of the Barcelona Process, and plays a central role in monitoring and stimulating the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in RTD.

 

Malta’s delegates for MoCo are Ms. Glorianne Camilleri (glorianne.b.camilleri@gov.mt) and Mr. Ian Gauci Borda ian.a.gauci-borda@gov.mt).

 

European Open Science Cloud (EOSC)

 

  The concept of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) was presented in the 1st EOSC summitheld on 12 June 2017.  A second EOSC summit  was held a year later on 11 June 2018.  Malta was present in both events. The Council Conclusions of the EOSC were adopted on 28 May 2018, during the Competitiveness Council (Research). The aim is to have a federated approach of all the national Open Science facilities in Europe.

 

The EOSC was launched in Vienna on 23rd November 2018.  The EOSC can be accessed from https://eosc-portal.eu/.

 

Dr. Ing. Richard Blundell (richard.blundell@gov.mt) is the lead delegate representing Malta on the EOSC Governing Board.