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A New Deal for European Higher Education and Research Areas

30 July 2019

Ludovic Thilly and Jürgen Barkhoff
Chair and Vice-Chair of the Coimbra Group Executive Board

A lot has happened in Europe in recent weeks: the all-important elections to the new European Parliament and of the Commission Presidents will have great influence on the future of the European Higher Education and Research Areas (EHEA&ERA). In particular, they will be crucial to the shaping of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) as well as the Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programmes. Moreover, we have also seen the results from the first call for the pilot Alliances of European Universities: among the 17 selected Alliances we were delighted to see the participation of 15 Coimbra Group Universities in 4 Alliances (UNA Europa, 4EU+, ARQUS, CHARMEU). Two of these have the Coimbra Group as an Associated Partner (UNA Europa, CHARMEU). Many other Coimbra Group Universities were involved in this first call and will surely reapply to the second call, together with other members applying for the first time: again, the Executive Board reiterates its wish to accompany all Coimbra Group Universities in this new challenge, selected or not. When launching this new initiative, the European Commission stated their ambition to support new models for strengthened cooperation between universities and other stakeholders: we can only wish that the selected Alliances will indeed develop new ways and means to the benefit of all Higher Education and Research stakeholders. Otherwise, this ambition will only lead to the creation of a new league, without systemic impact.

More globally, such impact will only be maximized if all European programmes provide the required political and financial mechanisms to develop the best conditions for tackling environmental, social, and economic challenges. It is this belief that led the Coimbra Group to again join forces with fourteen other European University associations and create a new media campaign entitled “Seize our Common Future: Joint Call for an Ambitious Horizon Europe Budget”. This text (published on the CG web site and in the present newsletter) calls for nothing less than a new deal for the European Higher Education and Research Areas: only with strong Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programmes will Europe have the capacity to rapidly achieve its objectives of knowledge creation and prosperity in an inclusive way.

Therefore, we call for the strongest possible political and financial support from Members States for making the European Universities Alliances initiative a real game changer and, more globally, for creating the best Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programmes: we want to see the year 2019 as the start of a new era with a united EHEA&ERA.