State Secretary Hirayama attends informal EU ministerial meeting on competition in the field of research and innovation

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Martina Hirayama, State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, took part in the informal meeting of research and innovation ministers from the EU member states in Santander (Spain) on 27 and 28 July. The talks focused on European science diplomacy and the further strategic planning of Horizon Europe (2021-2027). On the fringes of the meeting Ms Hirayama held bilateral discussions with her counterparts from Germany, Romania, Estonia, Austria and the host country Spain.

Science diplomacy is an effective instrument of international cooperation and is on the political agenda of the European Research Area. Against this background, participants at the informal EU ministerial meeting addressed the question of how cooperation between scientists, policy-makers and diplomats can be improved.

Switzerland has a long tradition of science diplomacy. One example is CERN in Geneva, which promotes and facilitates scientific exchange between countries through diplomatic and political partnerships. A further example is Swissnex, a global network established by Switzerland to promote international cooperation in education, research and innovation. Swissnex acts as a door opener for Swiss scientists abroad and strengthens Switzerland’s diplomatic relations with other countries.

In the discussions with her counterparts, Ms Hirayama stressed that Switzerland supports the creation of specific platforms for cross-national collaboration and proactively contributes to them as a partner in the European Research Area.

The ministers also discussed strategic planning for the second half of Horizon Europe (2021-2027), the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The focus of the discussion was to assess and promote coherence between Horizon Europe’s overall objectives and their implementation in both the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan 2025-2027 and in future framework programmes.

On the fringes of the meeting Ms Hirayama held bilateral discussions with Sabine Döring, Germany’s State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, and with Ivan Bogdan-Gruia, Romanian Minister for Research, Innovation and Digitalisation. She also held bilateral talks with Austrian Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research Martin Polaschek, Estonian Minister for Education and Science Kristina Kallas, and Spain’s Minister for Science and Innovation, Diana Morant. Spain holds the EU Council Presidency until the end of 2023 and thus hosted this ministerial meeting.