I am a researcher - why should I care about the EU?

‘Why is it so difficult to find a suitable call for my research topic? What goes on in those people’s heads that design these calls? These calls are always in favor of my rivals…’ These were very own frequent thoughts when conducting research and

‘Why is it so difficult to find a suitable call for my research topic? What goes on in those people’s heads that design these calls? These calls are always in favor of my rivals…’ These were very own frequent thoughts when conducting research and development projects in a national research organization. Slowly, after years of hitting head to the wall with project proposal rejections, an idea started to develop. Is there a better way to have your say about the funding programs, key strategic papers and call topics, than to complain about them with fellow researchers and feel genuinely frustrated?

It took some time to come up with the answers and to figure out the right ways. Advocating important research topics can be a seriously lonely job if your organization is not committed to it! Luckily, University of Oulu is a forerunner also in this field and any researcher working here can consider her-/himself lucky. Today, we find ourselves in a new position – helping researchers to succeed with their research endeavors. As a part of that job, we want to give the European Union decision-makers and civil servants the chance to hear about the top-notch research that is been conducted at UniOulu. Indeed, that is what advocating is about: telling about important results and future weak signals to the right people.

Researchers want to focus on researching. From time to time, we hear that advocating or lobbying topics sounds more like a curse word than an important focus - or at least something that you do not want to be part of. However, to be able to focus on researching also in the future – instead of being on funders mercy and waiting what will show up in the next call text - it is smart to start caring about EU and what is been done there. Quite a marvelous situation even since one doesn’t have to do it alone but gets all the support from Research Services!

Okey, you are convinced that it might be an important issue. Then what? Is it difficult to figure out what is going on in Brussels? Not at all! The European Commission has even published its work program for 2020 outlining the actions it intends to take over the next 12 months. Commissions five-year strategy and the annual work program go hand-in-hand with the future Horizon Europe 7-year research program.

According to the five-year strategy, during the coming years EU will focus on the reforms required by the ecological and digital transition, including social dimension and social change. The strategy's six general priorities are:

  • European Green Deal
  • Europe fit for the digital age
  • An economy that works for people
  • Promoting our European way of life
  • A stronger Europe in the World
  • A new push for European democracy.

These priorities determine where EU funds will be channeled and what value issues will be addressed in the EU. Does your research fall anywhere close to these categories? We believe so, since 2020 work program includes proposals and initiatives with a direct link to research at the University of Oulu.

For example, The Green Deal, Europe's green development program that will be launched later this year, covers a broad spectrum of society and aims to exploit research and new innovations in areas such as technology, circular economy, construction, energy and transport. In addition, Commission intends to put forward a European Climate Law to translate the 2050 carbon neutrality target into legislation, including initiatives to combat biodiversity loss.

To mention few others, Commission intends to present an action plan on cancer, as well as analyzing how new demographic realities and changes are affecting our societies, for example, on employment, public health and digitalisation, and responding to these changes by delivering a proposal for an action on aging populations.

Commission will launch a new European data strategy aimed at making the most of the potential of digital information and renewed industrial strategy to strengthen EU industry and its capacity for innovations.

Universities knowledge is the key to sustainable high-quality policy making and regulation across policy areas. By actively participating in EU decision-making, we are engaged in developing research priorities and responding to future challenges, such as climate change and health crisis. In addition, EU’s strategies, ambitions and actions have direct influence on what kind of work programs and funding calls will open in the coming years. Advocating your topic might help save the world!

When do the work programs and call topics come out? Later this year! Some serious drafting is been made as we speak of it. You and your research group should definitely get involved. Just contact us and we’ll see for it together that your Horizon will be clear for the next 7 years.

University of Oulu EU troopers at your service:

Anne ‘Money’ Salmi and Anniina ‘Advocate’ Jaako

Research Funding Specialist EU Specialist

Research Support Services