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‘Count on me’ new research commissioner tells ERC

Image: Mauro Bottaro, European Commission

Gabriel calls on community to defend European Research Council budget in maiden speech

Newly minted research commissioner Mariya Gabriel has told the European Research Council it can “count on me” to defend its budget.

But Gabriel, who officially became European commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth on 1 December, also called for the community’s support.

She told a European Research Council event on 3 December that “now and first, we need to defend our budget”.

During the speech in Brussels, the first of her new role, she said any cut to the budget of the council or Horizon Europe, the EU’s next seven-year R&D programme, was “not acceptable”.

“We need to stay as mobilised as possible” she said, adding that the programme would make “the most important contribution” to overcoming Europe’s pressing challenges, such as climate changes in climate and shifting demographics.

“The best investment in our future—and I’d like to insist, in our present—is investment in our researchers,” she said.

Gabriel heaped praise on the “game changer” ERC and the “vision” and “energy” of its outgoing president, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. 

She also thanked the audience for recent community pressure, which she credited with prompting a change to her job title to include ‘research’.

“To be very honest, I’m really very glad with the change,” she said.