European Parliament holds hearing of Bulgaria’s Commissioner-designate

The European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy, and Culture and Education committees held a hearing on September 5 of Iliana Ivanova, Bulgarian candidate for the European Commission’s innovation, research, culture, education and youth.

Ivanova was nominated to replace Maria Gabriel, who resigned on May 15 to become Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Bulgaria.

During her introductory speech, Ivanova presented her priorities to invest in research and innovation in the EU, boosting skills, promoting the cohesive role of culture and empowering youth.

The EU is a scientific powerhouse, she said, however the landscape remains “fragmented” and investments are below the target of three per cent of GDP and behind global competitors.

Ivanova vowed to do the utmost to support the Horizon Europe programme as a tool to ensure that Europe can be “a trailblazer at global level” and attract more resources, including through partnerships, and to facilitate access to funding for SMEs.

In order for the EU to reach its full potential, Ivanova said that it is essential to invest more in having diverse talent, skills and education.

She called for programmes to be made available to partner countries, for targeted initiatives to increase gender inclusion, including in sport, and completing the EU Education Area.

Ivanova said that sport is an important asset for EU cohesion as well as a tool to support European values and the mental health of young people.

MEPs posed several questions on how to improve Horizon Europe, its budget, efficiency and transparency, and how it should be adapted to new challenges without jeopardizing existing priorities.

MEPs also asked how member states and regions could be helped to achieve better results within the programme, and how to ensure that the allocated funding fully benefits taxpayers.

Members also asked Ivanova to improve gender equality, in particular in sport. Other MEPs called for ways to be found to incentivise member states to reach the three per cent research target.

Academic freedom in Europe, the proposed cuts to the Creative Europe budget and current gaps in the access to EU mobility programmes due to costs were also raised by MEPs.

They questioned Ivanova on plans to retain young research talent in Europe, ways to address racism and xenophobia in Europe via tools of education as well as on red tape preventing access to the EU’s education and culture programmes.

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