Publish Date: 20.01.2020

Category: News from the University

The Slovenian Business and Research Association (SBRA) held a meeting in Brussels to commemorate the centenary of the University of Ljubljana. The event was attended by the University’s Rector, Igor Papič, President of the Slovenian Business and Research Association (SBRA), Draško Veselinovič, Slovenian Ambassador to Belgium, Rado Genorio, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia to the EU, Iztok Jarc, European Commission’s Director-General for Research and Innovation, Jean-Eric Paquet, and and two-time former European Commissioner from Slovenia, Janez Potočnik.

One of the keynote speakers at the event was the Rector of the University of Ljubljana, Igor Papič, who stressed that the University of Ljubljana is the most successful institution in the thirteen youngest EU Member States in terms of obtaining funds from the Horizon programme for research and innovation. As such, the institution may justifiably point out the deficiencies of said programme. The Rector highlighted the extremely complex procedures, as the application for EU funds must be 150 pages long, taking up enormous amounts of time and money for a very low success rate. He therefore proposed two stages of the process: an app. 10-page application would be handed in first and then expanded if approved in the first stage. The Rector also critically observed that the gaps between the countries are even greater today than at the beginning of the Horizon programme. EU programmes were supposed to reduce the differences among the Member States, but they are currently increasing them, including the new 2021–2027 Horizon Europe programme. The Rector also pointed out that numerous researchers are paying specialised companies to adjust their applications so that they would appeal to the assessors in Brussels.

President of the SBRA Board, Draško Veselinovič, stressed that Europe will not progress without science, research and innovation. He also pointed out the question of how much funds from the EU’s long-term budget for 2021–2027 would be earmarked for science, research and innovation. According to Veselinovič, a battle is currently being fought between cohesion and science. Cohesion Member States, says Veselinovič, insist on cohesion, as developed Member States take the lion’s share in science, and so it is a question as to how much will remain for this area, which is essential for Europe’s competition against the global forces, especially the United States and China.

The attendees also discussed the role of universities in the Horizon Europe programme, the EUTOPIA project managed by the University of Ljubljana, the Green Deal, which is currently the most pressing subject in Brussels, and Brexit.

European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel on the centenary of the University of Ljubljana and project Eutopia

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