Partnership Stakeholder Forum 2023 - Results

The second Partnership Stakeholder Forum was organised by European Commission and ERA-LEARN and took place in Brussels, 5-6 December 2023. The event attracted more than 250 people that were able to take part in several workshops that addressed important topics namely, synergies between Partnerships and Missions, experiences, achievements and needs of the European partnerships based on the HE interim evaluation, the additionality and directionality of European Partnerships as well as openness and transparency and developing a coherent Partnership portfolio. At the same time, the future of partnerships was also discussed in detail both in terms of their selection process and their design under FP10 considering also their internationalisation and global links under the spectrum of strategic autonomy for the EU.

After an extended period of getting started and exploration that lasted more than 10 years, Partnerships need now to enter a maturity phase. Their orientation should be better balanced towards economic and societal goals. Partnerships need to escape the bureaucracy trap and set high goals and achieve the scale needed for global competition. It is also important to strike the right balance between openness and protection by cooperating with like-minded actors that respect the EU values and ensuring reciprocity.

The importance of evaluating the European Partnerships and assessing their impacts cannot be overstated. While the interim evaluation of Horizon Europe is underway, we need to stress that the additionality of partnerships does not include only public or private investments mobilised towards common EU priorities. It also refers to qualitative impacts, such as valuable networks and innovative ecosystems, international visibility, development of standards or regulations that give Europe a leading position in the world. While there are diverse approaches to directionality across countries, alignment of national and EU policies and definition of priorities at national level helps to increase the efficiency of the actions undertaken. At the same time, there is a need for not underestimating the importance of the Partnerships’ visibility in Europe and beyond and for developing a strong communication framework.

Implementation needs to be straightforward and the structures that need to be in place or created anew should not overburden the partners, nor the administrative burden be excessive for the partnership beneficiaries. Partnerships need to act faster in FP10 and be less bureaucratic. Abiding by the long-term commitment, and the principles of openness and transparency is still relevant, but we need to move forward and start discussing new topics putting partnerships at the centre of the EU goals in the industrial and societal sphere. Political commitment needs to be revived and policy scope needs to be extended beyond research and innovation.

We need a strengthened and more balanced co-creation approach between the Commission, the Member States and Associated or Third Countries, the research actors and the industry stakeholders for the selection of partnerships. Looking ahead, the ‘business as usual’ way is to be avoided, and one single type of partnership would not work. Partnerships are an important instrument for achieving the EU policy goals, but their creation needs to be backed by sound justification. Flexibility is key to accommodate differences in focus, scope and orientation. It is important that ‘form should follow function’ in the design of the partnerships. Equally important is to exercise anticipation and set specific goals to regain leadership of European industries. Focusing on fewer, top-down priorities may be due in this regard. Constant learning circulation among policy, research and businesses is needed as well as learning from the global best practice.

A longer version of the forum results as well as video recordings are available on the event’s page and a detailed forum report will be published on the ERA-LEARN website in January 2024.

Published : 14/12/2023