NCBR: Research and innovation offices in Brussels join forces to help the Ukrainian research community

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In these difficult days for Europe, we – the members of a community of research and innovation liaison offices based in Brussels – would like to express our solidarity with the people of the sovereign state of Ukraine, who are became on February 24, 2022 a target of hostile military aggression by the Russian Federation. In these dark days, we cannot remain indifferent and silent. Heartbroken, we witness many casualties among innocent civilians and see tens of thousands of people forced to flee their homelands. Thus, without hesitation, we strongly condemn this unwarranted invasion, occupation and destruction of independent Ukraine.

Watching the horrific scenes of this unfolding humanitarian crisis, we are deeply touched and concerned about the plight of our peers – members of the Ukrainian academic and research community. This is of particular concern to us, the first signatories of this declaration, geographically close to Ukraine and sharing with it the dark pages of the violent past of the 20th century. The story that can’t be repeated.

Therefore, we feel compelled to act now. As a community of R&I liaison officers based in Brussels, we cooperate with each other on a daily basis, respecting the principles of trust and openness, sharing and exchange of information and good practices, networking and enabling our stakeholders to strive and succeed. The European Research Area is where we work and where Ukraine and its academic and research community also belong.

Thus, we are fully committed to working tirelessly to make the necessary support available to all students, researchers and scholars currently at risk. This concerns those who are still in Ukraine as well as the hundreds, if not thousands, who have been displaced so far and are currently seeking refuge. This includes vulnerable scholars, caring for their children and elderly family members. Furthermore, support might also be needed for brave people who speak out or protest against Russian aggression against Ukraine in neighboring states, where freedom is not taken for granted.

We are committed to working with our European partners and stakeholders to develop and implement meaningful measures such as research and mobility funding instruments, administrative care, training and other support measures. We are also considering other possible ways to provide concrete assistance aimed at supporting our Ukrainian peers.

As a community operating in Brussels, we urge the European Commission to continue to act quickly to avoid further damage to the Ukrainian academic and research sector. This includes a necessary reflection on the EU’s research links with the Russian Federation and other states supporting the aggression against Ukraine. Furthermore, having seen accelerated funding measures implemented in 2020 in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to see similar instruments deployed quickly with the aim of providing adequate financial support to students, researchers, Ukrainian universities and research organizations. .

As we know very well, access to information is crucial. Therefore, we pledge to commit to supporting and spreading the #ScienceForUkraine campaign as a model example of a pan-European, bottom-up and all-biological project with high added value. This is an initiative born online, coordinated by researchers from the COST action nep4dissent.eu, funded by Horizon 2020. It is a Twitter profile (@Sci_for_Ukraine) and an online resource (https://scienceforukraine.eu/) gathering support offers from universities, research centers, laboratories and individual scientists aimed in particular at Ukrainian students and researchers.

At times like these, we must demonstrate to our dearest friends in Ukraine that the European Research Area and the European Education Area are not just EU policies, but values deep and tangible Europeans. We have to prove it. To this end, we seek to act in collaboration with the European Commission, in particular with colleagues from the Directorates-General for Research and Innovation and Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, as well as with the executive agencies concerned. We can work and cooperate in a truly European dimension, where science brings people together to make our world and our societies better for our generation and for generations to come.

This joint statement remains open for signature by all the other counterparts concerned, in particular individual members of the community of research & innovation liaison offices in Brussels.

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