European universities & research careers: new conclusions from the European Council

On The June 7, 2021


During the month of May 2021, the European Council issued several decisions and conclusions regarding the European Universities initiative, as well as research careers.

European Universities initiative: Council conclusions pave the way for new dimension in European higher education

On May 17, 2021, the Council adopted conclusions on the European Universities initiative - Bridging higher education, research, innovation and society: paving the way for a new dimension in European higher education. The initiative, launched by EU leaders in 2017, will be fully rolled out during the EU's 2021-2027 financing period. Within the European Universities alliances, students, staff and researchers should be able to move seamlessly between partner institutions to train, teach and do research.

With their conclusions, ministers encourage member states and the Commission to make sure that the initiative remains central to building a European Education Area by 2025, inspiring the transformation of higher education in the EU and helping to achieve the ambitious vision of an innovative, globally competitive and attractive European Education Area and European Research Area. To that end, the Council invites member states to take advantage of all available funding possibilities.

Ministers also recommend more cooperation between education authorities, higher education institutions and stakeholders to remove obstacles to European level cooperation. In this context, they suggest exploring the need for and feasibility of joint European degrees within the alliance of 'European Universities'. A stepwise approach to joint recruitment schemes for teachers and researchers should be promoted.

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The European Council adopts conclusions about research careers in Europe

The European Council adopted on May 28, 2021 conclusions that mark a turning point in the objective to enhance the attractiveness of research careers and brain circulation within the European Research Area (ERA). The conclusions call for the development of an internal market for research that offers improved framework conditions for research careers, both in the academia and beyond.

The improvement of researchers' careers has been a top priority for the Portuguese Presidency. The pandemic further highlighted that this is very much needed in order to preserve and promote a resilient and competitive Europe. These conclusions mark a first step towards making research careers across Europe more attractive and sustainable and allowing brain circulation to become a reality.

Manuel Heitor, Portuguese Minister for Science and Technology and Higher Education

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