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Press Release

Science and society in Europe

How to bridge the gaps?


Brussels, 6 December 2001

Key words: Eurobarometer 55.2, public understanding of science, survey, science and society

The European Commission published today its latest Eurobarometer survey on "Europeans, science and technology". This comes just two days after the adoption of an action plan "Science and Society" which addresses some of the issues identified by the survey.

Both the Eurobarometer results and the action plan were presented by EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin to the media today in Brussels. Said Philippe Busquin: "Our society continues to have a positive perception of science, but we must address the concerns and scepticism that people express about some specific issues. Scientists have a very strong image in society, but it is an ambiguous one. The results of the survey show that Europe must invest in knowledge at all levels, and especially in scientific information. I am struck by the large number of people saying there is not enough science on TV. People want to learn and want to have information. A clear challenge for all is to become more professional in the way science is communicated."

The action plan "Science and Society" aims to help bridge the gap between science and society in Europe. It will support the European Member States in benefiting in a responsible manner from the advances of science and technology made in Europe.

The Eurobarometer survey, requested by the Research Directorate-General, offers an insight into how European citizens view science and technology .

The main results of the Eurobarometer show that

  • There is a real gap between science and society. Two thirds of participants in the survey think that they are badly informed on science and technology while 45.3% declare that they are interested in the topics;
  • Science remains a very positive value in our society; citizens expect a lot from scientific progress and want political decisions to rely more on experts' advice;
  • The majority of Europeans call for reinforced control of research activities particularly in terms of consumer protection, employment and social issues, energy and science;
  • Although crises like BSE can strengthen the image and importance of research, scientists have an ambiguous image, especially in terms of their assumed responsibility in the misuse of their discoveries by other people;
  • There is large support for European research, in particular the need to better co-ordinate research and enlargement, which is seen to promote the scientific potential of both the candidate countries and the current Member States;
  • Finally, as measured by this survey, the level of Europeans' scientific literacy is stable compared with 1992 (previous survey undertaken by the Commission).

To raise the awareness and knowledge of Europe's citizens regarding science issues, the Commission proposes in its action plan measures regarding :

  • Promotion of scientific education and culture;
  • Bringing scientific policy closer to citizens;
  • A responsible science at the heart of policy making.


Further information:

Additional Materials

Eurobarometer Citizen

For further information, or to arrange interviews , please contact:

Michel Claessens, European Commission, Research DG, Information and Communication Unit
Tel: +32.2.2959971, Fax: +32.2.2958220



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