ANE Advocates for STEM Competencies in EU Internal Market Report

ANE is thrilled to share our recent interaction with Mr. Enrico Letta during his visit to Copenhagen, 21 February 2024.

Meeting with Letta

Mr. Letta is a man of many accolades including former Italian prime minister and current President of the Jacques Delors Institute. He is currently working on a high-level report on the future of the EU’s internal market, set to be unveiled at the March 2024 European Summit in Brussels. This is the reason, we at ANE have been eagerly looking forward to this opportunity to exchange ideas and insights with Mr. Letta.

STEM Competencies: The Cornerstone of Europe’s Future

In our dialogue with Letta, we emphasized the importance of including STEM competencies in the forthcoming report. STEM competencies are not just academic disciplines; they are Europe’s foundational resource for securing and maintaining its competitive edge. With the EU’s ambitious targets of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and spearheading green and digital transitions, the need to prioritize STEM competencies on the political agenda has never been more critical.

A Call for Inclusion in the European Semester Process

We propose a strategic inclusion of recommendations and targets for STEM competencies in the European Semester process. A higher-level process of benchmarking is needed, one that incentivizes Member States to formulate concrete action plans on STEM. Among the Nordic Countries, only Finland currently has a document that could be considered a STEM strategy. We believe it’s time for a change.

The Need for Sector Skill Demand Analysis

We also discussed the importance of prioritizing investments in analysing the sector’s skill demand. Our analysis of technological strongholds in the Nordic region reveals challenges in talent attraction and specialist availability, particularly in the batteries and hydrogen sectors. These sectors are now included in the EU’s list of 10 critical technology areas, highlighting the urgency of addressing these issues.

Addressing Brain Drain: Transforming the Workplace

Like Germany and France, the Nordics also benefit from STEM talents from other regions in Europe. However, this is not a sustainable solution for the Single Market due to the risk of brain drain. We need a commitment from Member States to improve infrastructure and working conditions, retain qualified labour by upskilling and reskilling the national workforce, and ensure attractive working conditions across the EU.

Streamlining Investment in Technological Development

The EU should strategically focus on areas where start-up costs are high, knowledge building takes a long time, and alternatives are few. Microchips, batteries, and recycling technologies are prime examples of such areas.

Towards a Real European MIT

Finally, we believe it’s time for a real European MIT. The European Innovation and Technology Institute was envisioned as such, but it has not delivered on the initial idea. We need to foster a stronger connection between academia, research, and business, forming a robust “innovation triangle”.

For more details on our discussion and proposals, please see our position paper to Mr. Enrico Letta: