Speech of Thomas Ístros, Swedish Minister for Education and Science,
Community Aeronautical Days
Germany on 29 January 2001
of all, I would like to thank Commissioner Philippe Busquin for
inviting me to participate in the opening ceremony of this conference.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here in Hamburg today on the
occasion of the Aeronautics Days 2001.
people know that research is one of the fields where the European
Union is focusing most resources. The present Fifth Framework Programme,
which sets out the priorities for the European Union's research
and technological development until 2002, has a budget of almost
15 billion Euros. That makes this framework programme one of the
largest budget items for the European Union. Only agriculture and
the structural development funds receive more resources.
framework programmes have made research an important tool for European
co-operation. However, recently research has come into focus for
international politicians as never before.
the European Council's meeting in Lisbon in March 2000, the Council
established a new strategic objective for the Union for the next
decade: to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based
economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with
more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. By confirming
the importance of research and innovation for economic development
and growth, the Lisbon summit put research at the top of the European
political agenda, a position I believe it will keep in the years
area of European co-operation which has become very important in
recent decades is aeronautics. One example in the civil aircraft
sector is the European Airbus consortium, a co-operation project
that has proven to be a great success.
similar trend towards cross-border collaboration is evident in the
area of research and technological development. In the course of
successive research framework programmes, aeronautics has grown
in relative importance. Now, in the Fifth Framework Programme, it
holds a strong position and has its own key action under the thematic
programme "Competitive and Sustainable Growth". The budget
of this key action, "New perspectives in aeronautics",
is 700 million Euros. This means that the funds allocated to this
research area have almost tripled compared to the Fourth Framework
Programme and that the European Union is now responsible for a large
proportion of European public expenditure on aircraft research and
Swedish Presidency as a whole wants to focus on three overall issues,
our three "Es", which share top priority on the Swedish
Government's agenda: Enlargement, Employment and Environment.
presents a historic opportunity to unite a continent that has been
divided for many years and to consolidate peace, freedom, democracy
and prosperity in Europe. Sweden wants to play an active role in
moving the enlargement negotiations forward and our goal is to achieve
decisive advances during our Presidency.
fight for jobs has long been a Swedish priority. Over the last few
years the unemployment rate in the European Union has dropped from
11 per cent of the labour force to nearly 8 per cent, but Europe
must keep the pressure up. Another major challenge for the European
Union consists of the demographic changes that the Member States
face. These issues will be the focus of discussions at the European
Council in Stockholm in March.
issues and the pursuit of sustainable development have also been
a high-priority policy area for Sweden ever since we joined the
EU. A strategy for economically, socially and environmentally sustainable
development is to be adopted at the Göteborg Summit in June
and we will also consolidate the work on integrating environmental
aspects into all decision-making in the European Union.
plays an important role in all these three fields. Research is becoming
increasingly important for economic growth, employment and the renewal
of society along ecologically sustainable lines. By being open to
researchers and scientists from candidate countries and other European
non-member countries, the European Union's education and research
programmes are already making an active contribution to linking
together the whole of Europe.
three priorities of ours - enlargement, employment and environment
- also have obvious connections with research and development in
the field of aeronautics. On this occasion, however, I would like
to focus on just one of them - environment.
larger European Union will stimulate economic development across
the entire continent. This will increase the need for a safe, efficient
and environmentally friendly air transportation system. The objective
of the current key action in the Fifth Framework Programme is to
reduce aircraft development cost and time, boost aircraft efficiency,
improve environmental friendliness and enhance operational capacity
a frequent flyer I attach great importance to all these objectives,
but from a long-term perspective I consider the environmental aspects
to be the greatest and most important challenge.
is true that the aeronautical industry is working hard on reducing
aircraft engine emissions and fuel consumption. Modern aircraft
and engines are much more environmentally friendly than their forerunners.
The problem is, however, that these improvements are not enough.
The reason why this is so is the simultaneous growth of air transport.
1999 the European transport ministers declared that the volume of
air transport is projected to double over the next 10-12 years.
In the same year, 1999, a working group of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel established jointly by the
World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP), published a special report on aviation and the
global atmosphere. In its report the working group stated that global
passenger air travel is projected to grow by about 5 per cent per
year between 1990 and 2015. In spite of improved aircraft efficiency,
this is projected to entail an increase in total aviation fuel use
of 3 per cent per year over the same period.
increase in fuel consumption is not in line with our ambitions to
bring about sustainable development. Solving this equation - making
the development and application of new technologies faster than
the rate at which air transport grows - represents a major long-term
technological challenge for the aeronautical industry.
the Swedish Presidency, negotiations will start on the European
Union's Sixth Framework Programme for research and technological
development. The ongoing work on planning this next step in European
research co-operation is being carried out in the light of the communication
"Towards a European Research Area" by the Commissioner
for Research Philippe Busquin.
Commission is expected to deliver its formal proposal for the Sixth
Framework Programme in February, so it's too early to say what the
outcome will be of the discussions and negotiations that will follow.
But here today I would like to bring up a few issues that the Swedish
Presidency finds very important.
of all, one of the main challenges will be to strike a good balance
between, on the one hand, concentration of resources, and on the
other hand, allowing competence to be fostered and developed in
the different Member States. Like education policy, research policy
is primarily a national area of responsibility. At the same time,
higher education and research belong to a part of society where
globalisation is already very tangible and which has a long tradition
of contacts across national borders. Over the years, international
co-operation in research has grown still further in importance.
believe that a "European research area" should be created
through co-operation and networking on a voluntary basis around
freely chosen objectives. Let me also stress that, although European
and national programmes are very important, research and technological
development are not just a matter for taxpayers. One fundamental
principle is that industry, which benefits from the results, should
itself take on substantial responsibility for these investments.
it is essential both to preserve existing centres of scientific
excellence and to develop new, perhaps virtual, centres. At the
same time, we think it is important to maintain healthy competition
in European research. Scientific excellence and the quality of the
research performed should be the most important criteria when deciding
how to invest in research and development in the future.
although the industrial and economic aspects of the framework programmes
are important, it is time now to strengthen the scientific dimensions.
The role of the universities in European research should not be
underestimated. University research lays the foundations of basic
research and guarantees the long-term scientific base. Like many
other industries, aeronautics is based to a large extent on scientific
achievements and results produced by basic research. For this reason
it is also important to further strengthen and stimulate the flow
of knowledge between industry, research institutes and universities.
framework programme should contribute to raising the quality and
enhancing the attractiveness of European research. In the opinion
of the Swedish Presidency, efforts should concentrate on urgent
areas and on strengthening the position of basic research within
the programme. At the same time, strong support must be given to
a variety of measures to boost the European capacity for innovation
and to encourage and improve opportunities for international mobility
among researchers. Researcher and student mobility is one of the
most important means of promoting European research co-operation.
At the same time - and this is of great importance - Europe should
not go into its shell. It is very important that European research
and industry, acting from a strong position, is open to global co-operation.
these remarks, I wish you all a very interesting and successful
conference on the future of European aeronautical industry and research.