A Call for Integrated Science and Technology Research in Europe
With the introduction of the Euro, Europe made a great leap toward full economic integration. In the same spirit, the European Union (EU) is now aiming for similar integration in its research initiatives, according to Achilleas Mitsos, a top-ranking member of the European Commission.
In a seminar at AAAS on 8 May, Mitsos spoke of the importance of integrating European research, and of some strategies for doing so.
Although he had just arrived from Brussels in mid-afternoon, Mitsos was energetic and eloquent as he presented his talk, entitled "The European Research Area: A Coherent S&T Policy for Europe and New Opportunities for Cooperation," to a full auditorium.
"This is an exciting time for research in Europe," Mitsos said. For the first time in EU history, he noted, the three governing bodies of the EU the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission have come to a common decision, agreeing to a plan for 2003-2006 that would push science and technology research to the forefront of EU policy.
This decision, Mitsos said, comes two years after the heads of Europe had decided that Europe had no alternative but to become the most competitive region in the world by 2010.
"The only way [to do this] is to create a knowledge society putting more emphasis on research and education," Mitsos explained.
This new rallying cry for a better Europe by 2010 is led by an initiative known as the "European Research Area." The European Research Area sets forth a framework that its designers hope will be the beginning of coherent European policy and research. It is also the first time the EU will try to combine public funding for research from both national and community budgets.
"We are trying to increase the impact of every EU Euro spent on research," Mitsos said in the question and answer session that followed his speech.
Dr. Mitsos also noted that policy alone cannot reshape or motivate a knowledge-based society; scientific research must gain popular support as well. Presently, he said, society asks science for immediate, urgent answers, but resists embracing the solutions because of an underlying distrust of science. Continued dialogue and understanding between scientists and the public are crucial for policy to work, Mitsos said.
10 May 2002
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