Brussels, 24 September 2008
Putting Europe high on the global map of science and technology: Commission advocates new international strategy
Today, the European Commission called on governments to jointly develop a strategy for international cooperation in science and technology. It proposed a strategic framework for jointly strengthening science and technology cooperation with non-EU countries, notably in the field of Information and Communication Technologies where Europe is a strong exporter1. The Commission's objective is to contribute to sustainable development worldwide while at the same time improving Europe’s competitiveness in science and technology. The Commission invites Member States to define together, rather than in isolation, priority research and technology areas where a coherent EU effort would have more impact.
According to European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik, "Global challenges call for global responses. There is no area today where this is truer than in science. Our international partners are attracted by Europe as a model of regional integration, but they are faced with a multitude of governmental actors, research priorities when they want to engage in concrete cooperation. The aim of our strategic framework is to engage with our Member States to transform Europe's research labyrinth into a European Research Area open to the world, attracting the best brains and contributing to address global challenges".
"At a time where telecommunications, the internet, mobile telephony and television increasingly impact on our life and on the EU economy, it is urgent to improve the effectiveness of the EU's international action in information and communication technologies," says Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "If Europe wants to maintain its position as a global leader in Science and Research, we need to find the most efficient ways to collaborate within the EU and to transform our willingness to cooperate with our partners worldwide in acts while targeting our priorities".
Member States and the European Commission are involved in a myriad of research cooperation activities with third countries. However, the absence of a common strategy at European level has led to duplication of efforts and often a waste of resources. At the same time, global challenges such as climate change, food and water supply or the digital divide, highlight the need for a better cooperation in science and research between Member States and the Commission to promote EU policy goals as well as global sustainable development.
The strategy adopted by the Commission today sets out a framework for a European approach to international cooperation in science and technology. It outlines core principles which should underpin European cooperation with the rest of the world and proposes specific orientations for action to: - strengthen the international dimension of the European Research Area (ERA) by integrating Europe's neighbours into the ERA and fostering strategic cooperation with key third countries through geographic and thematic targeting; - improve the framework conditions for international cooperation in science and technology and for the promotion of European technologies worldwide. This includes the joint development of global large-scale research infrastructures (such as GEANT), support to mobility of researchers or management of intellectual property. The Commission also recommends strengthening the global position of the EU's ICT industry and other advanced technologies that would, thanks to EU regulatory principles, improve the investment environment and anticipate the convergence between electronic communications and media. It also plans to monitor non-tariff barriers and regulatory hurdles faced by EU industry on third markets.
1. The EU accounts for over 15% of world trade in ICT goods which together with ICT services represent 10.2% of all EU exports and 14.4% of all imports.
The Communication is one of five policy initiatives planned by the Commission to follow up the 2007 Green Paper "The European Research Area: New Perspectives" and is a further step in the creation of the "fifth freedom" by removing barriers to the free movement of knowledge.
The initiative proposed today is at the same time a follow up to the 2006 Commission Communication "Towards a Global Partnership in the Information Society" and follows a public consultation launched in July 2007 to gather views of stakeholders on how to open new global markets for ICT industry (IP/07/988).
The full text of the Communication is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/research/press/2008/pdf/com_2008_588_en.pdf
On the international dimension of the Information Society see: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/tl/regwor/index_en.htm
Catherine Ray, European Commission spokesperson for Science and Research
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