How important is research for Europe's future?
An apt question and one that the Commission has asked itself in a recent communication on how science and technology hold the key to Europe's future. Now, it wants to hear from the public on this very topic, and has launched an ‘open consultation' to encourage the EU's expanded citizenry to have its say.
All views from the research community and users of research throughout the EU-25, as well as countries not formally associated with the Union, are welcome, according to the consultation website. The site was developed with an on-line form for submitting answers to a set of questions aimed at fleshing out the Commission's communication entitled ‘Science and technology, the key to Europe's future – Guidelines for future European Union policy to support research' (COM(2004)353).
Public research institutes, universities, large companies, SMEs, research organisations, international organisations and associations, as well as all those involved in research policy-shaping, are invited to take part in the consultation simply by completing the survey or by sending comments to the Commission's Research Directorate-General.
Six axes of future research
When the Commission issued its proposal on how to strengthen EU science and technology, on 16 June, it recommended that the research budget for the Seventh Framework Programme be almost doubled and that future research could centre around six major objectives, highlighting space and security as areas of particular interest.
These objectives are: creating European centres of excellence through collaboration between laboratories; launching European technological initiatives; stimulating the creativity of basic research through competition between teams at European level; making Europe more attractive to the best researchers; developing research infrastructure of European interest; and improving the coordination of national research programmes.
But in line with the principles of transparent governance and respecting the governance White Paper on how to enhance democracy in Europe and increase the legitimacy of its institutions, the Union is keen to receive feedback from Europe's S&T stakeholders to help shape future research policy. The deadline for responses to the open consultation is 15 October 2004.EU sources