Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020

On 1 July 2020, Germany has taken over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months. The goal of Germany’s Presidency is for a stronger and more sovereign Europe to emerge from the current coronavirus crisis.

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Europe is facing huge and dynamic transformations with far-reaching consequences for politics, the economy and society, the scale of which is not yet clear. These processes are being driven by the coronavirus crisis, rapid technological change and the simultaneous efforts to combat climate change.

Dealing with the crisis, digitalization and sustainable change in Europe

Germany’s priority topics for its presidency in the areas of education, research and innovation are overcoming the coronavirus crisis, combating climate change and the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation and the resulting changes in the worlds of education and work.

Together with its partners in the trio presidency – Portugal and Slovenia – Germany will use its presidency above all to launch initial measures to bring about the implementation of a European Education, Research and Innovation Area.

Priorities of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research

During the German Presidency, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is planning to provide significant impetus for a future European education, research and innovation policy, for example in resilience research, digital education and for targeted, dynamic cooperation in the European Research Area based on solidarity.

“Europe can learn from this crisis and emerge stronger than before. Cooperation in education and research can play an important role in this. Ultimately, we will see that cooperation across borders in education and research is a real benefit for Europe.”

Federal Minister Anja Karliczek

The coronavirus crisis has re-emphasised just how vital it is to invest in education, research and innovation, both nationally and at European level. For this reason, the BMBF will continue to put important future challenges on the agenda, such as working towards innovative and excellent initial and continuing vocational training in Europe, the digital transformation of industry and society, Europe’s technological sovereignty, the joint fight against climate change and European cancer research.

The negotiations on the important European programmes for education and research such as Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ have reached a crucial stage. Here too, the BMBF will strive to focus efforts on strengthening European cooperation on education and research as a lasting model for success.

Close cooperation with Portugal and Slovenia

When the German Presidency finishes at the end of the year, Portugal will take over in the first half of 2021, followed by Slovenia. Together, these three countries make up what is known as a trio presidency. The BMBF is reinforcing the trio presidency model in the areas of education, research and innovation by developing a joint roadmap that extends over 18 months for the first time.

Close cooperation among the trio is more important than ever in view of the current crisis. In such times, we want to coordinate our plans even more closely and forge ahead with joint initiatives.

The citizen science campaign “Plastic Pirates Go Europe!” launched by the trio promotes the involvement of young people in Europe. School kids from Germany, Portugal and Slovenia will cooperate to gather data on plastic waste which will then be analysed by scientists from their three countries. This will provide us with information about the state of rivers while contributing to environmental education. It is the first time that that there will be an overarching joint trio activity of this kind.

Education and research policy in Europe

Education and research are essential elements of European cooperation which have been successful over many decades: European exchange not only helps to develop our societies further, improve the preconditions for individually determined lives and drive the competitiveness of Europe’s economy, but it also helps to ensure long-standing peace in Europe. Even if borders have had to be closed during the coronavirus crisis, it is imperative that they should not become barriers to us jointly solving problems, exchanging ideas and sharing resources in order to master the challenges of the future.

Important dates during Germany’s Presidency

The Council presidency rotates every six months among the EU’s member states. The Council of the European Union represents the member states at EU level and decides on EU laws, usually together with the European Parliament.

Minister Anja Karliczek will be chairing the relevant meetings of ministers from the different member states in the Education Council and the Competitiveness Council on Research in the second half of 2020 and will host three informal ministerial meetings:

  • Informal Meeting of Research Ministers, 21 July 2020
  • Informal Meeting of Education Ministers in Osnabrück, 16-17 September 2020
  • Ministerial Conference on the European Research Area in Bonn, 20 October 2020

In addition, numerous expert conferences are planned, which will also provide a showcase for the German research and education landscape in Europe, such as: