Luncheon-debate with Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Last Tuesday 8th November, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium held a new luncheon-debate in collaboration with the Government of Navarre, in which the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, spoke about the new European innovation agenda.

R&D&I should respond to the needs of Europeans and tackle some of the major challenges facing the EU-27, the Commissioner underlined after the introduction of the President of the Chamber, Pablo López-Álvarez. Attracting and retaining talent, developing soft skills and promoting spaces for experimentation are just some of the flagship initiatives in the Commission’s strategy for the next two years: “If there is action in these areas, European lives will be easier”.

Boosting Europe’s competitiveness will require raising investment, good framework conditions and fundamental reforms. “We can only achieve this if we work together,” added Gabriel, who recalled the importance of understanding the specific needs of each region when implementing their own innovative projects and ideas, or the challenges faced by European companies, especially start-ups.

The ‘Innovation Fund‘, one of the largest funding programmes in the world, is only the first step in achieving the EU’s strategic objectives. Mariya called on all those attending the debate to be part of the so-called “coalition of the willing”, a union of public and private actors to cooperate in the implementation of the European innovation agenda, to support our talents (and boost female talents), and to move towards a green and digital Europe.

The Commissioner also wanted to highlight the important role of the regions in designing and implementing the EU executive’s action plan. In this regard, the Government and the University of Navarra, represented by its Councillor for Citizen Relations Ana Ollo and its Rector María Iraburu, have been nothing but precursors of this new wave of innovation, in which they will continue to work to be a “European, innovative and green” Navarre, in Ollo’s words.

From the Chamber, we would like to show a special thanks to Bodegas Xaló, and to all the attendees, who made this lunch-debate a very successful one.