A working group aimed at strengthening the Eastern Partnership region’s Smart Specialisation approach
The fourth informal working group under the Eastern Partnership (EaP) R&I Panel took place on the 20th and 21st of October, 2022 in the city of Tbilisi in Georgia. The event gathered 56 participants including 26 representatives from five (5) EaP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine), four representatives of EU Member States (Belgium, Germany, Latvia and Romania), three Civil Society Forum representatives, the European Commission (DG JRC, DG NEAR, DG RTD) and EEAS colleagues including colleagues from the EU Delegation to Georgia.
The meeting took stock of the achievements of the EaP Partner Countries regarding their progress in developing and implementing national plans and programmes with a view to supporting R&I reforms in the Partner countries. Acknowledging the current security concerns in Eastern Europe caused by the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the event set forward solutions for building resilience through stronger and more interconnected research ecosystems. Insightful presentations were delivered focusing on facilitating the access to the latest developments in EU Research and innovation policies, including Smart Specialization and technology transfer national roadmaps. The event included a forum for discussions on the challenges identified at a national level, highlighting the efforts made to build stronger R&I ecosystems while increasing the EaP partner countries participation in Horizon Europe.
Representatives from the EaP countries elaborated on the current state of play in the development of national R&I ecosystems, in implementing R&I policies, challenges, and solutions they have identified in the implementation of the new post EaP 2020 R&I priorities. The active role of the civil society in the EaP Partner countries was emphasised as well. EaP Civil Society Forum representatives addressed several key problems deriving from the war in Ukraine with an insightful presentation, recognising problems and proposing tangible solutions. One of the key takeaway points is that the EU shall continue with the methodological support in developing Smart Specialization strategies (S3) and technology transfer roadmaps.
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) presented the state of play of S3 in the Enlargement and Neighbourhood Region and the support offered in four directions: capacity building, targeted expert support, methodologies and guidance, as well as knowledge based cooperation. It is, in this respect, a major Science and Knowledge Hub supporting the EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood Region, through analyses, reports, guidebooks, online courses and fostering a network of cooperation among the interested stakeholders.
Some key highlights from the latest report were also presented with a focus on the economic, innovative, scientific and technological potential found in the region, including country factsheets of each EaP Partner country, which can provide additional insights to this process. The JRC stressed the importance of the upcoming steps that Smart Specialisation and EaP are planning, specifically in terms of continuing the methodological support, the next perspectives for new EU candidate countries, the Ukraine Recovery Plan, the implementation of S3 and into the national policies in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, as well as engagement with more EaP partner countries.