On 1 December, the new European Commission led by Ms Ursula Von der Leyen took office. One of the Commissioners in Von der Leyen's team is Ms Mariya Gabriel, whose portfolio was named 'Commissioner for Innovation and Youth' when she became the Commissioner-designate.
Our President, Sir Jim McDonald (Principal & Vice Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde), wrote on 25 September to the then President-elect Von der Leyen respectfully urging that the portfolio of ‘Innovation and Youth’ should be renamed to reflect all three areas of the knowledge triangle: research, education and innovation.
Sir Jim welcomed Ms Gabriel’s clearly stated objectives to “build a true European Research Area” and to make the “European Education Area a reality by 2025”. These areas are important for Europe to help strengthen our knowledge-based societies, therefore it caused surprise that her portfolio title did not reflect the full knowledge triangle. Addressing this, he also wrote "I was therefore surprised that the proposed title for Ms Gabriel’s portfolio, 'Youth and Innovation', does not reflect these three underpinning aspects of a knowledge-based society. While the title is a label, labels are important as they help coordinate, direct and prioritise our efforts as well as communicating clear purpose."
We therefore warmly welcome the change in portfolio title just before the official start of the Von der Leyen Commission, and we look forward to working closely with the full Commission and especially with Ms Mariya Gabriel, the new Commissioner for Research, Innovation, Education, Culture & Youth.