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Outcome of the e-IRG Webinar Series organized in the framework of the Croatian EU Presidency on 25-26 May 2020

Grand challenges of e-infrastructures within the new ERA

The e-IRG workshop organised within the framework of the Croatian EU Presidency was conducted as a series of three webinars, each of them addressing one of the top challenges for the further development of e-Infrastructures in the Europe Research Area and beyond:

  • development of adequate skills,
  • partnerships between related stakeholders within and across national boundaries, and
  • sharing of data under the FAIR principles, within and across scientific domains, institutions and countries.

The first webinar of the e-IRG Workshop addressed the enduring issue of skills development and upskilling in the changing European e-Infrastructure landscape and its implications on European competitiveness, one of the priority topics of the Croatian EU Presidency. Tome Anticic, State Secretary, Croatian Ministry for Science and Education stressed that

"Brain circulation remains a cornerstone of the European Research Area - driving future economic growth through top-level research and innovation creation - supported by the right set of infrastructures".

The second webinar focused on partnerships - in broad terms - as a means for funding, coordination and sustainability of pan-European initiatives, distributing the inherent risk of these undertakings. The session highlighted the practical benefits of such joint activities to overcome the fragmentation, avoid duplication of efforts and promote innovation via federated environments, covering in particular the envisaged EOSC partnership.
Hans-Josef Linkens, EOSC Governance Board Chair, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) cited the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, highlighting that
"The European Open Science Cloud should be a trusted space for researchers: a web of FAIR research data and services in a truly integrated European system of infrastructures".

He identified Open Science and FAIR data, federation of existing and planned infrastructures and policies and co-operation across disciplines and countries as the key aspects that need to be implemented to eventually characterise the European Open Science Cloud.

In his presentation Erik Fledderus (SURF, NL) reflected on
"how we can build a true EOSC partnership, which addresses the researchers needs, based on National Open Science Clouds with various flavours",

following the idea that National Nodes are key building blocks of the European Open Science Cloud as presented in the recent e-IRG National Nodes document (1).

During the workshop the machine actionability of data and services under the FAIR principles was underlined and Liina-Maria Munari, Deputy Head of Unit of DG Connect, Unit C1 "e-Infrastructure and Science Cloud", European Commission, portrayed

"e-Infrastructures as the landing point for EOSC" and that "EOSC will need to support the web of FAIR data and their services".

A topic that was addressed in the third webinar, in which Barend Mons (LUMC, GOFAIR and President of CODATA) presented a success story how FAIR data have been used to forward the research on COVID-19 and stated that

"In this time of crisis we need FAIR data and services more than ever. Not being able to visit COVID-19 data costs lives. We need to speed up EOSC".

Paolo Budroni (e-IRG Chair) reminded the e-IRG earlier-presented notion of the e-Infrastructure Commons (2) acting as the basis for a European e-Infrastructure ecosystem, comprising high-speed connectivity, high-performance and high-throughput computing, leading-edge data management and software, as well as related services. Ivan Maric (e-IRG vice-Chair) stressed that e-IRG is regarding data as a key element of e-Infrastructures. Furthermore, there is a clear policy perspective in the federation of all e-Infrastructure components, especially via EOSC and European Data Infrastructure. The implementation of these partnerships would address important strategic objectives of the new European Research Area, to become inclusive, collaborative, seamless and connected, inspiring and open (3).

e-IRG will continue to provide policy recommendations that are also shaped by inputs provided in the e-IRG workshops and further the discussion on the e-Infrastructure Commons.


(1) e-IRG National Nodes Working Group Report 2019, "National Nodes - getting organised; how far are  we?", http://e-irg.eu/catalogue/eirg-1006
(2) e-IRG Roadmap 2016, http://e-irg.eu/catalogue/eirg-1002
(3) ERAC 1201/20, ERAC Opinion on the future of the ERA


The webinar is organised within the framework of Croatia's Presidency of the Council of the European Union by the e-IRG secretariat and the University of Zagreb, the University Computing Centre (SRCE) with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education.

The presentations and the records of the webinars are available at http://e-irg.eu/workshop-2020-05-programme.

This communiqué is released by Paolo Budroni (e-IRG Chair, Austria), and Ivan Maric (e-IRG Vice-Chair, Croatia) with the assistance of the e-IRG Support Programme.

The e-IRG Support Programme e-IRGSP6 has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 823761.