A former banker, secretary-of-state and Erasmus student who trained as an engineer, Carlos Moedas from Portugal was confirmed as the new European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. At his confirmation hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels at the end of September, Mr Moedas advocated more synergies and a stronger alignment of national research agendas. “Better access to finance capital for SMEs”, an “effective implementation of the budget foreseen for Horizon 2020” and a “simplification agenda” aiming at reducing the administrative burden linked to European funding programmes are among his priorities for his forthcoming mandate which starts on 1 November.
A recurring question during the hearing related to funding available for research and innovation, with several MEPs questioning the fragmentation of research funding opportunities across different programmes – whether regional policy, Horizon 2020 or others. “What’s missing is to be able to find ways with the structural funds,” Moedas replied, saying about €100bn is available under EU regional development programmes for science and innovation that can be used to “break the silos” between different EU funding schemes.
He also pinned hopes on the €300 billion investment plan announced by incoming Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, promising to “fight his corner” for research to feature prominently in the Juncker plan.