Opening session of the EurOCEAN 2000 Conference
This Conference is organised by the European Commission and co-sponsored by the German Länder Hamburg, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, Niedersachsen and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and the European Science Foundation (ESF) Marine Board.
Present attendance is about 350. The Conference will focus on bringing research providers together with end users in order to improve the mechanisms of research and technology transfer into the applied domain. In a series of parallel sessions, topics will be discussed that cover the priority fields in European marine science and policy. This will allow the engineers, scientists, industrialists, administrators and politicians of this field to discuss the relevant issues of research implementation, to expand the interface between natural science, socio-economics and policy, and to develop the key scientific and technological areas where Europe can play a significant role in the next decade.
In the first talk of the opening session, Mr. H. Tent, Deputy Director General (DG Research, European Commission), stressed the change in rationale from Framework Programme 4 (FP4) of the European Union, to the on-going FP5, more concentrated in scope, more focussed on problem oriented research and on links with industry / end users; The MAST (Marine Science and Technology) programme of FP4 has been largely replaced in FP5 by 2 "key actions" on Marine Ecosystems and on Global change, Climate and Biodiversity. H. Tent went on to describe current strategic thinking on a future European Research Area, first step in the elaboration of a future FP6 (see "towards a European Research Area", Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, January 2000).
Dr. H. Schunck, from the German Ministry for Education and Research, stressed the importance of pluridisciplinary research on all components of the "Earth System". German priorities are: to support research infrastructure; the linkage research-industry; support for the mobility of young scientists. EurOCEAN is the first international conference held in Germany that addresses the transfer of results of marine research to industry.
Since France currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, the session included a talk by a representative from the Ministère de la Recherche (Mme. A. Jacquésy). France's priorities are: to promote the mobility of researchers between countries as well as between academia and industry; to promote coordinated investment in, and management of research infrastructure; to improve coordination of research policies.
France would welcome a European information centre for marine / maritime data. It is essential to revitalise the dialogue of scientists and society.