The EU-27 ministers agreed, in the informal Competitiveness Council on 27-28 April, that the future European Institute of Technology (EIT) should be composed of networks of universities, research institutions and companies. These networks are, in the long run, expected to develop into partnerships.
The ministers also supported a German Presidency initiative, which proposes establishing only two Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) at first and others later once the projects have proven efficient. The Commission's proposal to make climate change and energy-efficiency research priorities of the first KICs was widely supported by the member states.
Some €308 million of EU money is planned for the first phase of establishing the EIT. The private sector is expected to contribute around the same amount, bringing the current overall EIT budget plans to some €600 million. The Commission's initial plans, according to which some €2.4 billion were scheduled to be spent between 2008 and 2013 for the establishment of six KICs, have thus been seriously scaled down.
According to the German Presidency, the ministerial debate also revealed that "the EIT can only be successful if long-term funding of the networks can be ensured". Therefore, the Commission is urged to "quickly submit a convincing and concrete funding proposal" for the EIT.
Furthermore, German Research Minister Annette Schavan said that the EIT would not award its own postgraduate masters or doctors degrees as initially planned by the Commission, but would only allow an 'EIT label' to be added to the degrees delivered by participating universities.
The German Presidency is determined to have the Council's political orientations on EIT ready by July 2007 and a regulation adopted by end of the year 2007, so that the decision on the first KIC could be taken by mid-2008 and the first KIC operational by early 2009.
A public hearing on the EIT will take place in the European Parliament on 2 May 2007.