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image European Research News Centre > Research and Society > National perceptions
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image image image Date published: 03/04/2002
  image National perceptions
RTD info Special
  How do individual EU countries perceive science and technology, scientific culture, the importance awarded to science subjects at school, ethical issues and the role of researchers? We take a brief look at each country in turn, highlighting the differences - big and small - to reveal how each one varies from the "norm".


Most critical of the world of knowledge: 33.1% think schools and universities are the least important source of information about scientific developments (EU: 20.6%).


Among the least opposed to GMOs: 19% feel their presence in food poses no particular threat to health (EU:14.6%).


Best informed about science and technology (51% believe they are well informed, compared with EU average of 33.4%). High expectations of research: 94.1% of Danes believe that scientific and technical progress will help find a cure for illnesses such as AIDS and cancer (EU average: 80.5%).


High expectations that science and technology could help eradicate poverty and hunger (43.6% compared with an EU average of 30.4%). Low awareness of EU research policy: just 18.4% of Finns know that the Union is involved in this field (EU: 38.2%).


Limited confidence in scientists: just 56% would trust them to explain the reasons for a disaster (EU: 62.7%). 75.4% feel that because of their knowledge scientists exercise a potentially dangerous power (EU: 63.2%). Positive attitude to research coordination: 87.4% want to see more co-operation between Member States (EU: 80.4%).


The lowest interest in science and technology (66.6% pay little attention to it, compared with 52.2% in the Union). Positive attitude to European research: 64.7% feel it is more effective than research at national level (EU: 58.2%). The new Lńnder are among the most positive about enlargement: 82.5% feel it will enhance the scientific and technological potential of the current Member States (EU: 53.3%).


Very concerned by ethical issues: 90.3% of Greeks believe the authorities should oblige scientists to respect ethical standards (compared with 80.3% in the EU). 70.1% feel they are responsible for the uses - including misuses - to which their discoveries are put (EU: 42.8%). They believe that scientists bear a major share of responsibility for BSE (84.8% compared to 50.6% for EU), and are strongly opposed to GMOs: 93.3% say they do not want this type of food (EU: 70.9%). 66.8% believe that research at European level is more effective than at national level (EU: 58.2%). 60.9% say they are interested in science and technology, while 25.5% (EU: 14.7%) say they are "interested" but "poorly informed".


The lowest number of visits to science and technology museums: 4.1.% compared with 11.3% in the EU. The lowest level of confidence in scientists (22.9% compared with 44.9% in the Union). Italy 59.4% of Italians believe more women should take up studies and careers in science (EU: 70.8%). They have a high regard for European research and believe it is more effective than at national level (65.1% compared with 58.2% for the EU).


65.8% are particularly interested in the environment, a record compared with the EU average of 51.6%.


The Portuguese are the least well-informed about science and technology (73.2% compared with 61.4% in the Union) and, logically, get the least pleasure from reading about the subject (78% say they read few articles on the subject, compared with 60.6% in the Union). Positive attitude to the Internet, believing it has the potential to improve the quality of life (50%, compared with 39.4% in the Union). Just 18.3% of Portuguese know that the EU is involved in research (EU: 38.2%). Spain Positive attitude to enlargement: 61% believe it will bring an 'added value' to the scientific and technological potential of the current Member States (EU: 53.3%).


64.3% of Swedes say they are interested in science and technology, compared with 45.3% in the EU. 19.4% say they visit science and technology museums regularly (EU average: 11.3%). They trust scientists: 68.6% do not hold them responsible for the misuse of their discoveries, compared with 42.3% for the EU. Are they technophobes? 72.5% believe that most high-tech products are no more than gadgets (51.5% in the EU). Are they Eurosceptics? So it would seem as far as European research is concerned: 38.3% believe it is less effective than research at national level (EU: 18.6%).

The Netherlands

The Dutch are the most interested in the Internet (47.9% compared with 27.9% in the EU) and among the least opposed to GMOs. 52.6% of them do not want them in their food, compared with 70.9% in the EU).

United Kingdom

The British are critical of the EU's role. Just 66.8% want to see the EU involved in the fields of science, technology and research - compared with 80.2% in the Union.


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