The European Parliament has backed the European Commission’s proposal to set up a European Institute of Technology (EIT) by a large majority, but called for a name change to include the word
‘innovation’, and an initial pilot phase.
MEPs would like to rename the EIT the ‘European institute of Innovation and Technology’ in order to reflect what they believe should be its primary focus: innovation.
The EIT will have a two-tier structure: a governing board will select higher education institutions, research organisations, companies and other stakeholders that will then form Knowledge and
Innovation Communities (KICs). The KICs have been designed by the Commission to play a unique role in the European Research Area (ERA) by combining all sides of the ‘knowledge triangle’:
education, research and innovation. It is hoped that they will be able to rapidly convert the results from basic research into new technologies ready for the market.
In contrast to the Commission’s proposal, the Parliament would like the KICs to be legally autonomous from the EIT. MEPs did however vote in favour of some basic rules for their composition:
every KIC should consist of at least three partner organisations, situated in at least two different participating states and including at least one higher education institution and one private
Back in June the Competitiveness Council agreed that the EIT would start with an initial two to three KICs, which will address the EU priorities of renewable energy and climate change.
MEPs were less specific about what topics they would like to see the first KICs address, but emphasised the need to have a pilot phase before a network of KICs is established. The Parliament
report states that the initial two or three KICs should address ‘areas that help the EU to face today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, such as climate change, sustainable mobility, energy
efficiency or the next generation of ICT [information and communications technologies]’.
In an amendment to the Commission’s text, MEPs proposed that the EIT adopt a Strategic Innovation Agenda before subsequent KICs are selected. The Agenda would identify what the EIT’s long-term
strategic focus should be, ‘in areas of key potential economic and societal interest which are likely to generate the greatest innovation added value’.
Parliamentarians largely backed the Commission’s plans on funding the EIT. Its overall budget has been estimated at around ?2.4 billion for the first six years, with ?308.7 million coming from
the Community budget. On 19 September the Commission adopted a proposal to revise the Multi-Annual Financial Framework for 2007 to 2013 in order to make funding available for the EIT and
The Commission has suggested that additional funding should come from existing Community instruments such as the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7),
the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and the Lifelong Learning Programme. The Parliament emphasised that applications to programmes such as these should in no way receive
privileged treatment over other applications. MEPs also adopted an amendment stating that funds stemming from these programmes should not be used to finance establishment and administration
costs, but instead the mobility of researchers, or research itself.
MEPs rejected the Commission’s proposal on the EIT awarding degrees and diplomas. Instead, an EIT mark should be added to qualifications awarded through those higher education institutions that
are members of the KICs.
The Council will now examine the proposal and formulate a common position this autumn, which will then be put to the vote in the Parliament.