The Bulgarian Candidate for EU Commissioner said She will only give Promises she could Fulfill

EU | September 5, 2023, Tuesday // 17:30|  views

Iliana Ivanova

"The European Parliament is at the heart of my commitment to the European idea of my years as a MEP in 2009 and as a member of the European Court of Auditors. These were the defining moments for me and I am deeply grateful for the years of cooperation and trust and dialogue on important aspects of European policies." This was stated in the opening speech of the Bulgarian candidate for European Commissioner Iliana Ivanova.

She was heard in the commissions of the European Parliament in Industry and Culture for the post of Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

Ivanova pointed out several major moments during the remaining year of the European Commission's term: a key role of research and innovation in view of the growth in the EU, the development of education and skills, closer to the role of culture in society, the empowerment of young people and the unifying role of sports.

She emphasized that research and innovation are vital to our sustainable future and called for investment. According to her, Europe is the engine of the scientific process in the world, but in the field of research and innovation there is still fragmentation, and investments are below 3% of GDP and much lower than those of some of the world's competitors.

She said she would work for a stable and sufficient budget. She explained that the long-term budget has been allocated, but there are other opportunities to attract public and private funding, including through partnerships and synergies.

In her introductory statement, spoken in Bulgarian, English, German and French, Ivanova said that she would also focus on the opportunities for the development of avant-garde technologies.

She is convinced that the Horizon Europe program must play a stronger role for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and that the geographical distribution of beneficiaries is important.

She stressed that it is always good to simplify and if a procedure is simplified, more users can be reached.

"It is high time we look at Horizon Europe as an instrument for the leading role of the EU worldwide", said Ivanova, pointing out that cooperation will always be crucial and the international dimension of the program should be strengthened, to be more active for the association of third parties.

"All this would not be possible without the most valuable resource, European citizens, and therefore it is extremely important to invest in the diversity of talents, the development of skills and education, only in this way will our full potential be realized", the candidate for the European Commissioner added.

She promised she would be behind the efforts to support the diversification of the beneficiaries and to give visibility of the path that women were walking.

"Education is at the heart of our European lifestyle and a basic prerequisite for establishing a successful EU growth model", Ivanova added, and the completion of a European educational space will be among her most important priorities.

According to her, work must be done on major issues - the decline basic skills and challenges of the teaching profession.

She will continue to work to build university alliances and will encourage efforts to recognize exams and diplomas.

She also emphasized sports as another important value for unity in society and said the European model of sports is a strong tool for promoting our values,

"I am aware of the responsibility that I will bear within the small time remaining until the end of the term", added Ivanova, emphasizing that she will make promises only for what she thinks she will achieve.

Questions from MEPs from the line committees followed.

She stressed several times that simplification of procedures was very important to her.

She also said that it is important to achieve a high result with every euro in the budget, but in the last 20 years there has been a serious shortage in financing scientific activity and innovation and a way to find it should be covered.

According to her, Member States cannot be forced to make 3% investment in development, but they can be convinced that this is the biggest investment in their future.

She pointed out the meaning she attaches to gender equality, and she was asked a question in connection with the Spanish football scandal that broke out around the President of the Federation Luis Rubiales. In the award ceremony of the World Cup, Rubiales kissed football player Jennifer Hermoso.

Asked about the obstacles to SMEs and the opportunities for financing on programs for them, she replied that "this is something that does not cost much, but it may be a good tool to help them simplify things".

She believes that there are many ways to reduce administrative burden so that access to SME programs is easier for them.

She will also work on another idea that can easily be triggered without investment - SME information campaigns that are only for them.

In response to a question about spending the research funds, she said that she would keep track of how they and every euro invested should lead to added value and benefits for citizens, not just statistics.

However, she stressed that there should be a balance and there are too many rules and complication in programs, a balance between simplification and control is needed.

She was disappointed with the reduction of the budget for 2024 by 40 million Euros for the Creative Europe program after the already made cut in 2023.

She also said that the possibilities for retraining and improving the qualification under programs such as Erasmus should be supplemented with actions in the field of vocational education and training and will closely monitor the field.

According to her, partnerships are an excellent example of dealing with one of the biggest problems in European scientific activity and innovation - the fragmentation and the difference between the regions. Therefore, opportunities for synergy in local communities must be sought.

She also said she wanted a bigger budget, but mostly wanted a stable Erasmus budget.

Asked about programs and initiatives she intends to implement in the research and innovation activities in Ukraine, she stressed that it is important to act quickly, to act now, and that she will want to have a "Horizon Europe" service in Kyiv and an innovative center there. Ivanova added that innovation is very important to support Ukraine.

In response to a question, she again pointed out that she was very careful about what she promised and promised only what she could do, she recalled that she had promised to focus on protecting the same budget on Horizon Europe to achieve the goals of the program.

Asked about the suspended funding for universities in Hungary over disputes between the European Commission and the Hungarian government, she said "it was a pity to see how students were cut, but the rules should be respected".

She noted that she was aware of the conversations between the Hungarian authorities and the EC in order to take measures from the Hungarian authorities and to fulfill legal obligations in response to the EC questions.

"I am aware that there is no progress in these negotiations, and it will be a pity if these young people do not have access".

Without promising that she will solve the problem, she promised that she would be part of the solution, not part of the problem, and would participate in dialogue if necessary to make progress. Ivanova added that she could not promise to do something that must be done by the Hungarian government. According to her, young people should not be hostage in such a situation.

She refused to give a deadline to solve the problem and said that it depends on the Hungarian authorities to accomplish what they were asked for.

She was asked what she would do the education of the marginalized groups, giving an example with the Roma in Sofia's "Fakulteta" neighborhood, as well as those from Kyustendil.

She stressed that inclusion is at the heart of European values and programs and will encourage any action in the fight against racism and xenophobia.

According to her, through education, minority groups can integrate easier and faster and contribute to the development of society. They must be a major target group, work priority to guarantee equal access to education for minority groups.

"Basic skills such as reading, writing, mathematical skills, logical thinking are a key prerequisite for children to be successful and to realize themselves in the labor markets, but over 20 percent of students are lagging behind and are not literate enough", Ivanova said. She added that the reasons are complex, and it is important to address them together with the Member States, educational institutions and parents.

Her hearing was followed by applause in the hall.

On the basis of the recommendations of the committees and the evaluation of the Council of Committees Chairmen, the Presidential Council will carry out the final evaluation on September 6 and decide whether to complete the hearing process and to vote during the plenary session in September.

After the hearing, Ivanova stated: "Today I am extremely grateful and happy that I had the opportunity to discuss with the MEPs their questions, the challenges that are facing this extremely important and strategic portfolio for the future of Europe - science, research, innovation, youth, culture and sports. We expect the decision of the coordinators. I hope that if I am selected, I will work with all my might, tirelessly, fulfill this short remaining term this year and contribute to the maximum to achieve the goals.“

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Tags: European, Iliana Ivanova, commissioner


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