Just transition to a sustainable Europe

European Research and Innovation Days

Milon Gupta

The European Research and Innovation Days are the European Commission’s annual flagship event for research and innovation. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was held as an interactive online event from 22nd to 24th September 2020. The dominating topic was the European Green Deal.

Panel session with Commissioner Mariya Gabriel (right)

The three-day Commission event combined high-level speeches and panels with topic-specific information aimed at potential project proposers. The large choice of sessions included in addition to the high-level plenary 10 information and interaction tracks called ‘Hubs’ on the following central areas in EU research and innovation: Policy, Green Deal, Digital, Horizon Europe, Missions, Smart Implementation & Synergies, International Cooperation, European Innovation Council, European Institute of Innovation & Technology, and European Research Council.

Green Deal plenary

In the day-one plenary on “European Green Deal & Just Transition”, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, presented the EU vision of a sustainable Europe, which decarbonises its economy and reaches zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Mr Timmermans stressed that this transition has to happen in a socially inclusive way, where no one is left behind.

Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans presenting the EC vision of a sustainable Europe and a just transition

New European Research Area

In the next plenary, a high-level panel of speakers, including Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, discussed the steps towards a new European Research Area (ERA). The panellists talked about the main novelties of the ERA communication including its contribution to build an excellent European R&I system for the benefit of all, and its new approach towards a wide outreach engaging all levels, including Member States, regions and citizens in this endeavour.

Green Deal Call Info Day

On the second day of the event, several information days on open Horizon 2020 calls took place, among them the information day for the Green Deal call. John Bell, Director Healthy Planet at the EC’s DG Research & Innovation, explained the goals and expected outcomes of the Green Deal call. It has a volume of around a billion euro spread across 8 Green Deal work streams. The EC expects from Green Deal projects a short-term and medium-term impact towards the achievement of the EC’s CO2 emission reduction goals.

Mr Bell pointed out that all solutions developed in Green Deal projects need to be scalable and socially acceptable. In view of the coming Horizon Europe programme, he said that 35{b28ae05319d94bff0b4d65c5a9f4524dd588360f05c61ef440e1608e0a1c4144} of Horizon Europe is envisaged to be for Green Deal related projects.

John Bell, Director Healthy Planet at the EC’s DG Research & Innovation


The event featured many more facets of the EU’s vibrant research and innovation ecosystem, including the contribution of women in technology as well as the way research and innovation will help in shaping the post-COVID-19 world.

Beyond sharing information, the event also enabled the interaction with and between participants via proposal pitches at online brokerage events and meetings in virtual chat rooms. Although the virtual format could not replace in-person meetings, it managed to facilitate interaction. Even in a post-COVID-19 world, when large-scale meetings are possible again, it might be the more sustainable option to keep the virtual format for the European Research and Innovation Days.

Further information

European Research and Innovation Days website – https://research-innovation-days.ec.europa.eu/