new vision of human resources in Europe
NOVEMBER 2002 – On the eve of the Sixth Framework Programme
launch, Commissioner Busquin explains the role of human resources
in the development of the European Research Area.
Why has human resources become such a major issue
The new emphasis on human resources in FP6 is in direct response
to the growing awareness in Europe about the role of researchers
in society and their contribution to competitiveness and job creation.
To ensure we make the most of our research potential, the Commission
is working hard to improve the environment in which researchers
live and work. The creation of the European Research Area and the
EU Member States' commitment to devote 3% of their GDP to research
activities by 2010 are two examples of the efforts to support and
enhance Europe's research. The new human resources and mobility
activities covered under the Sixth Framework Programme play an important
role in this effort. For the first time nearly 10% of the Framework
Programme's entire budget will be devoted to the development of
training, mobility and the career development of researchers.
How important are these issues to the development
of the European Research Area?
I believe training and mobility are crucial to the success of the
European Research Area. The aim of the ERA is to structure and streamline
research in Europe through a better coordination of R&D activities.
This cannot be achieved without a dynamic transfer of knowledge
and ideas. The new human resources and mobility activities on offer
under FP6 give researchers the chance to live and work abroad, to
exchange experiences with colleagues, acquire new skills, participate
in joint projects, and experience the diversity of Europe's cultures
and scientific heritage.
What does the EU want to achieve with its new
human resources activities?
The main objective of the FP6 activities is to implement a completely
new approach in our vision of human resources, based on a series
of principles. First, we believe that researchers need to experience
mobility at different stages of their career. This is why we have
dropped all references to age limits. The new activities are not
only intended for researchers at the early stages of their career
but also for experienced researchers who need to acquire new skills
in order to set up research teams and implement new projects.
Secondly, we have systematically extended our activities to researchers
from outside Europe which will enhance the EU's attractiveness for
research talent from all over the world. A third priority is the
development of new return and reintegration schemes for researchers
taking part in mobility schemes. This will help researchers to fully
benefit from their mobility and training experience by being able
to re-enter the European job market once they have completed their
Finally, the Marie Curie label has been extended to all our human
resources activities aimed at researchers in order to introduce
a culture of mobility in the research area. This will echo the one
that already exists in the higher education area through the Erasmus
What are the main benefits to researchers taking
part in these schemes?
The main benefit to researchers is definitely the training component.
Researchers constantly need to update their skills in order to keep
ahead of the competition. The new human resources activities will
make life-long learning possible. I also believe the schemes will
play an essential role in helping researchers to become scientifically
independent at early stages of the career. Of course the schemes
will also benefit experienced researchers, enabling them to acquire
new knowledge and expertise. This is all the more important in a
world which increasingly emphasises the interrelation between scientific
In addition to the Marie Curie Actions, we also need to provide
researchers with the best possible environment to carry out their
projects. With this in mind, we are working hard to remove the obstacles
to mobility. An internet portal will be launched in Spring 2003
to provide researchers with comprehensive and up-to-date information
on legislation, financial schemes and job vacancies. In parallel,
a network of mobility centres will be set up in all EU Member States
and candidate countries to help researchers and their families moving
to another country. These centres will provide personalised assistance
on practical issues such as housing, schooling, day-care and language
What kind of funding will be available to researchers?
The Human Resource and Mobility scheme has been allocated €1,580
million under the new Framework Programme, an increase of almost
56% on FP5. This gives a clear signal about the importance of the
development of researchers' careers in Europe.
When will people be able to start applying for
The first calls for proposals will most likely be launched at the
end of December 2002. Details will be published on this website
and in the Official Journal.
What message would you like to add at the
launch of the Framework Programme and the Marie Curie website?
The new Framework Programme offers a unique opportunity to develop
a new vision of human resources in Europe. It reflects our commitment
to enhance both the social visibility and career prospects of researchers.
To ensure the EU's future competitiveness, it is vital we maintain
and increase the number of researchers in Europe, whilst continuing
to attract young people to scientific careers. Training and mobility
are important instruments to meet this target. I hope that our new
Marie Curie Actions will play a decisive role in implementing these
objectives and I look forward to reading about the experiences of
the Marie Curie researchers on this new website.