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Commissioner Philippe BusquinA new vision of human resources in Europe

5 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 under FP6?
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 scheme.
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 programme.

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 fields.
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 courses.

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 funding?
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.

last update: 06-01-2003