Human resources and mobility - at the heart of FP6
The new Human Resources and Mobility actions in FP6 offer exciting opportunities for researchers throughout their careers, and are among the most essential and visible means of developing the European Research Area. At the FP6 launch in Brussels on 11-13 November, researcher training, career development and mobility were recurrent themes throughout the conference as can be seen from the following news reports.
The Commission has a long tradition of supporting the development of human resources in its Research Framework Programmes. This time round, however, the funding for training and mobility of researchers has increased dramatically – from €900 million under FP5 to €1.58 billion. This is the biggest single increase among all research priorities, accounting for almost 10% of the entire FP6 budget.
At the FP6 conference parallel session on human resources, the Commission’s Raffaele Liberali outlined the rationale behind the budget increase. The new schemes aim to develop and transfer Europe’s research know-how, to enhance recognition of researchers’ careers, and to develop and promote excellence in European research. “Europe’s ability to carry out world-class research is dependent on the availability of a sufficient number of skilled researchers and their capacity to produce, transfer and utilise knowledge,” he said.
Representing the view of industry, Pierre Bismuth, Vice-President of Personnel at Schlumberger, explained how researcher mobility makes good business sense. “Our company has an obsession for researcher mobility and diversity. It is our driving force and in my view it is the best vehicle for knowledge-sharing.”
Whilst welcoming the Commission’s new initiative, Irina Veretennicoff from the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels stressed the importance of opening the schemes to as many researchers as possible. “The programmes should not be reserved for the lucky few,” she said.
Calls were also made for the Commission and Member States to deal with the brain drain of scientists from the EU and candidate countries and to make science a more attractive career option, particularly for women.
Mary Osborn from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany described the lack of women in science as “wasteful”. While there is still a lot to be done in this area, she praised the Commission for the very successful work undertaken under FP5. “The policy towards gender mainstreaming is one of the real success stories of the ERA. I hope some of this success will spread to the Member States,” she said.
Aleksandra Kornhauser-Frazer from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia believes it is wrong to talk about the participation of women as a question of social justice or talent. “We should take women as they are. They are less competitive and more co-operative. They are less focused on the ‘publish or perish philosophy’ and are more likely to emphasise those research projects the EU demands,” she insisted.