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The European Institute of Innovation and Technology will be headquartered in Budapest

The headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will be hosted by Budapest. A decision taken by the science ministers of all EU Member States on 18 June selected the Hungarian capital over four other bids. The Hungarian government welcomed the agreement and said it was a great success for the country.

The Slovenian Minister for Higher Education, Mojca Kucler Dolinar, in her current function as President of the Competitiveness Council also expressed her satisfaction: ‘In fact, I am delighted to see the efforts and commitment on the part of the Member States for the common good,’ she said. ‘Both the Slovenian Presidency and I personally have dedicated huge efforts towards driving forward the selection procedure, and now they have paid off. The EIT will become a symbol of the combination of European research and innovative capabilities and the beginning of its operation will, accordingly, mark an important milestone in the history of European research policy.

‘We took on great responsibility but at the same time we had available to us a unique opportunity, which we used to the full in order to set up a framework for joining up European research, business and educational potential,’ Ms Kucler Dolinar added. ‘Now that we have decided on the headquarters of the institute, and with the forthcoming appointment of its governing board, all the conditions will finally be in place to bring the EIT project to life and enable it to fulfil its purpose.’

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, congratulated Hungary on its achievement: ‘This is also the result of Hungary’s long tradition in excellence in education, research and innovation. Setting the EIT in Budapest represents a flagship for excellence in the knowledge triangle.’

Five bidders had entered the race for the EIT seat, including Budapest, Wroclaw in Poland, Sant Cugat del Vallès near Barcelona in Spain, Jena in Germany, and a joint bid from Bratislava (Slovakia) and Vienna (Austria). According to Mr Barroso, this ‘reflects the strategic and economic interest attached by our Member States to this ambitious project. I want to congratulate the city of Budapest and the Hungarian authorities for this designation, which will surely enhance the European profile of the country and its capital.’

The European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel’ commented: ‘The unique feature of the EIT is that it brings excellence in enterprise, research and higher education together, to maximise potential synergies and cross-fertilisation of ideas from all parts of the ‘knowledge triangle’. This is vital if we are to successfully face the challenges of the 21st century.’

When the EU research ministers came together at the end of May, the decision had to be postponed because Poland vetoed the otherwise unanimously backed city of Budapest as the EIT seat. Yet, the ministers had agreed on the selection criteria, namely that the seat should be in one of the new Member States and it should be in a Member State that does not currently have a European agency or institute. Among the five bidders, only Budapest met those requirements.

The Slovenian EU Presidency had left no doubt that it was determined to reach a consensus with all Member States before handing over the EU presidency to France at the end of June.