The European Parliament is central to my dedication to the European idea, both during my time as a Member of the European Parliament in 2009 and as a member of the European Court of Auditors.
These experiences have had a profound impact on me, and I am immensely grateful for the years of collaboration, trust, and dialogue on crucial aspects of European policies.
This statement was made by the Bulgarian candidate for European Commissioner, Iliana Ivanova, during her opening speech. She appeared before the European Parliament’s Industry and Culture committees to be considered for the position of Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth.
Ivanova highlighted several significant moments for the remaining year of the European Commission’s term, including the importance of research and innovation for EU growth, the development of education and skills, the role of culture in society, the empowerment of young people, and the unifying role of sports.
She emphasized that research and innovation are essential for a sustainable future and called for increased investment. According to Ivanova, Europe is a global leader in scientific progress, but there is still fragmentation in research and innovation, with investments falling below 3% of GDP, much lower than those of some global competitors.
She pledged to work towards a stable and sufficient budget, mentioning the allocation of long-term funds and the potential for attracting public and private funding through partnerships and synergies.
Ivanova, who spoke in Bulgarian, English, German, and French during her introduction, also emphasized her focus on the advancement of cutting-edge technologies.
She believes that the Horizon Europe program should play a more significant role in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and emphasized the importance of distributing funding to beneficiaries across different regions.
Simplifying procedures to reach more users was also a point of emphasis for Ivanova. She stated that it is time to view Horizon Europe as a tool for the EU to lead globally. Cooperation and strengthening the international dimension of the program were highlighted as crucial.
Ivanova acknowledged that the valuable resource of European citizens must be invested in to realize the full potential, with a focus on talent diversity, skills development, and education.
She also underlined the importance of sports as a unifying value in society and the strength of the European sports model in promoting European values.
Ivanova answered questions from MEPs, covering topics such as funding for research, gender equality, support for SMEs, administrative burden reduction, the decline of basic skills, vocational education and training, and the need for partnerships to address fragmentation in European scientific activity and innovation.
When asked about Ukraine, Ivanova expressed her desire for quick action to support innovation in the country and mentioned the possibility of establishing a “Horizon Europe” service and an innovative center in Kyiv.
Regarding the funding suspension for universities in Hungary, she highlighted the need to respect rules and legal obligations, while expressing concern for students’ access to education.
Regarding marginalized groups, such as the Roma in Sofia’s “Fakulteta” neighborhood, Ivanova stressed the importance of inclusion and combating racism and xenophobia.
She emphasized the integration of minority groups through education and emphasized the need for equal access to education for these groups. Addressing the issue of lagging basic skills, she recognized the complexity of the problem and the importance of collaboration with Member States and educational institutions.
Overall, Iliana Ivanova’s speech and responses showcased her dedication to promoting innovation, research, culture, education, and youth in Europe. She emphasized the need for investment in these areas, simplifying procedures, and addressing existing challenges to achieve a successful EU growth model.