Plenary with Commissioner Maryia Gabriel
International communications consultant and editor of the eLearning Africa Report,
Dr Harold Elletson is an International Communications Consultant and Senior Fellow of the Institute for Statecraft.
He is a founding director of the Africa Forum on Business, Investment and Security, a member of the steering committee of OEB, a member of the Organising Committee of eLearning Africa and a consultant to ICWE GmbH. He is also the editor of The eLearning Africa Report.
Dr Elletson was previously Director of the NATO Forum on Business and Security, which he created with support from the NATO Science Programme.
A former Member of the United Kingdom Parliament (from 1992-1997), he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in the early stages of the peace process and was also a member of the Select Committee on Environmental affairs. He served as a member of the Lancashire Education Authority (the Education Committee of Lancashire County Council) before being elected to Parliament where he represented the interests of schools and colleges in his constituency in discussions with Ministers and on the floor of the House of Commons. He is a Fellow of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme and of the Industry and Parliament Trust.
As a communications and public affairs specialist, he has advised many leading companies on aspects of their business in challenging markets, including BP in Azerbaijan and Alstom in Siberia. He has written widely on political and historical subjects and his first book, The General Against the Kremlin, that was published by Little Brown. His journalism has been published in a variety of newspapers and magazines. Dr Elletson holds a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Bradford.
European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, Youth and Sport, Belgium
Mariya Gabriel is the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, Youth and Sport. Under her leadership the new Horizon Europe, Erasmus+, and the cultural strand of Creative Europe programmes (2021-2027) will be defined and implemented.
Her main priorities are excellence in research, innovation and education (ERA, EEA, EIA) ; tackling the R&I divide in Europe ; Europe as a leader in strategic innovation areas through the digital and green transition, with a particular attention to young people and regions. “No one left behind” and “Think out of the box” are her mottos.
Between 2017 and 2019, Mariya Gabriel was European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. She proposed the new Digital Europe programme, worked on EU Strategy on AI, disinformation online, cybersecurity and launched the EuroHPC strategy. She has extensively engaged with external EU partners to enhance digital cooperation, in particular with the Western Balkans and Africa.
She was elected Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in 2009, 2014 and 2019. Mariya Gabriel is First Vice-President of the European People's Party (EPP), and since 2012 Vice-President of EPP Women.
Commissioner Gabriel is board member of the United Nations youth programme Generation Unlimited (GenU). She has been ranked among the 50 most influential women in Europe in the field of cybersecurity by the leading European cybersecurity magazine SC Media UK (2019).
Mariya Gabriel is also known for her involvement in the fight for gender equality. Amongst others, she received the prestigious Italian prize “Golden Apple” for highest achievements for women. At the European Parliament, she was awarded twice the "MEP of the year" - in 2016 in the Development category, and in 2013 in the Gender equality category.
She holds a Master's degree in political sciences and international relations from the Institute of Political Studies (Bordeaux, FR) and a Bachelor’s degree in Bulgarian and French Languages from “Paisii Hilendarski” University (Plovdiv, BG). She also graduated from “Dr.Petar Beron” Language High School (Kyustendil, BG).