TUM Brussels Insights

The German EU presidency 2020 – research and innovation as key for Europe’s recovery

July 16, 2020

On July 1, 2020, Germany’s presidency of the Council of the European Union started under the motto ‘together for Europe’s recovery’. It is the beginning of a trio presidency: Germany is followed by Portugal and then Slovenia. The three countries have drawn up a joint roadmap determining the long-term priorities for the next 18 months. In addition to combating the Covid-19 pandemic and the recovery of the European economy, the plan features research and innovation topics prominently.

Germany last held the presidency, which rotates every six months between the 27 EU member states, in 2007.  The German presidency marks the starting point of a newly established trio presidency in order to ensure stability and continuity in the agenda setting and cooperation within the union.

Together for Europe’s recovery

Recovery from the pandemic, research and innovation, and technological sovereignty are at the center of the agenda, and Germany also puts high priority on finalising the difficult ongoing negotiation on the multi annual financial framework, the EU budget for the next seven years. Furthermore, the German leadership sets the goal of making Europe stronger, more equitable and more sustainable.

German chancellor Angela Merkel calls for more European collaboration within the next months: ‘The idea of a common and strong Europe presents us with an ongoing challenge. In particular, searching for the right responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences will demand our attention for a long time to come. We know that we can only master this extraordinary crisis in the best possible way if we work together.

Focus on research, climate, and digitalization

Sustained investment in research, innovation and education will play a key role for EU’s ability to respond to the pandemic and other future crises. The pandemic has exposed Europe’s economic and medical vulnerabilities. To prevent that from happening in the future, Germany is calling for ‘innovative answers’ and for a debate on whether Europe should pursue ‘technological sovereignty’ preventing to depend on others in coming crises. At the same time, discussions in the council on a new climate law that seeks to halve EU’s carbon emission by 2030, and a coordinated plan to digitize the European economy, will continue. Germany and its successors in the presidency call to ‘further strengthen the digital sovereignty’ of the EU.

Universities for Science and Technology want to design a resilient Europe

2020 is an extraordinary year that shakes up priorities and turns traditional patterns upside down. Change is the only constant, and as universities of science and technology, for TUM and its partners in the EuroTech Universities Alliance, embracing change is in their DNA. Being flexible is an important prerequisite for innovation.

Universities must see the current challenges as an opportunity to gain momentum. The crisis offers an opportunity to find innovative answers together, to learn from each other and to create a resilient Europe that will emerge stronger from the crisis. European cooperation plays an important role here, because together we can learn from the current situation, set joint priorities and offer solutions.

In their shared vision for 2025, the six presidents of the EuroTech partners explain what is necessary to achieve a strong, sovereign and resilient Europe. ‘Together for Europe’s recovery’ is not only the motto of the German EU presidency, but also the motto of the EuroTech Universities Alliance.

German EU presidency and TUM’s EuroTech presidency go hand in hand

Not only is the Federal Republic of Germany at the top of Europe now, but so is TUM at the top of the EuroTech Universities Alliance. President Thomas F. Hofmann holds the leadership of the Alliance until July 2021 and sets the agenda in the coming months. Together with the five other partners, he will bring the new 2025 vision to life. The EuroTech Universities Alliance takes on the challenge of the current situation and is well prepared to actively shape Europe’s future.

A resilient and technological sovereign Europe is at the center of these efforts. All six EuroTech partners are working on the future technologies. Since 2019, the partner universities have been working together in the field of AI, one of the research priorities of the German presidency. As part of the European Green Deal, hydrogen energy is of particular importance to Germany. Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) and TUM are joining forces within the Bavarian Hydrogen Strategy. Together, the two universities will investigate hydrogen-based mobility and translate the results into real-world applications.

Conclusion: Cooperation and alliances are more important than ever for Europe

Never has a strong Europe and European collaboration been as important as in these challenging times. Excellence research institutions such as TUM need to collaborate to overcome this crisis and work jointly on technologies, which make Europe more resilient in the future.

Together with its partners in the EuroTech Universities Alliance, TUM wants to show how much is possible when you join forces. The activities of the Alliance offer answers to the key topics of the German EU presidency bringing together top-notch research from six European locations and innovation ecosystems.  Chosen as ‘European University’ by the European Commission, the Alliance will also take its responsibility to educate the talents, which Europe needs to face future pandemics and other challenges.