The programme of Belgium’s presidency lists six key priorities for the following six months, primarily focusing on rule of law and unity, competitiveness, green and just transition, health and social agenda, migration and global multilateral relations. Science-policy related subjects show up in many of these areas – such as enhancing the role of research in competitiveness, highlighting R&D’s role in global health, as well as in harmonising intellectual property systems, amongst other areas.
The programme’s chapter on Research & Innovation states that R&I’s potential should be utilised in achieving strategic autonomy in “health, clean-tech, food, digitalisation, disruptive and key enabling technologies (KETs) ranging from AI, advanced materials and life-science technologies”. This is to be achieved by improving the connection between science, industry, policy, and society, which is also set to improve trust in science. Evidence-informed policymaking and science communication are mentioned as tools to this end. In addition, the key role of research valorisation in connecting academic research and society, ways of furthering international research cooperation and the monitoring of Horizon’s Framework Programme 10 is mentioned. Lastly the EU’s space and nuclear energy programmes are also discussed. With regards to the former, “improving cyber resilience”, and using space to mitigate climate change and security is emphasized, while support for the development of radiological and nuclear technologies in healthcare and the Strategic Agenda for Medical Ionising Radiation Applications (SAMIRA Initiative) is discussed in the context of the latter.
In the section discussing the Presidency’s environmental policies, the programme also specifically mentions pursuing the sound implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS), as well as addressing the issue of PFAS connected to it – the topics of which are highly relevant to EuChemS, which is a stakeholder in CSS, and works on scientifically addressing the PFAS issue as well.
Belgium is the second in this trio presidency, and will be followed by Hungary, which begins its term on 1 July 2024.