European Science and Research Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, will make his first official visit to India on 7-9 February, with events in Delhi and Ahmedabad. While there, he will co-chair the first ever meeting of EU and India science ministers and participate in the EU-India Science Icons meeting, with the President of India, plus 500 Indian science students. Commissioner Potocnik will also inaugurate a workshop on climate change research, and visit India's premier fusion energy research facility.
"India and the EU have much to learn from each other in the field of science" said Commissioner Potocnik before his departure. "We have both recognised that our people, and their knowledge, are our best resource. We are working together in major projects such as the GEANT network, Galileo satellite system and ITER fusion energy project. I hope that my visit, and especially the EU-India Ministerial Meeting, will give added impetus to an already flourishing relationship".
The EU-India summit in October 2006 highlighted the importance of research in the EU-India relationship. Between 2002 and 2006 more than 75 projects were funded that involved Indian researchers. Significant new opportunities are opening up with the advent of the Seventh Framework Programme, which has a structure that is more open to international partnerships than its predecessors.
The EU-India Ministerial Conference on Science on 7 February will be chaired by Kapil Sibal, the Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, for the Indian side, and Annette Schavan, German Federal Minister of Science, and Commissioner Potocnik for the EU side. It will be attended by ministers or high-level representatives from the 27 EU Member States, many of whom have recently signed bilateral science and technology agreements with India. The objective of the conference is to identify ways to strengthen the scope and quality of scientific co-operation with India, within the context of the continued development of a European Research Area.
On 8 February, the Commissioner will participate in the EU-India Science Icons event, where leading figures from science and research in Europe and India will have a chance to interact with Indian science students. The event, under the aegis of the Indian President DR APJ Abdul Kalam, is based on similar gatherings that take place in Europe, which are important in generating interest in and enthusiasm for science as a career choice. The same day Commissioner Potocnik will also open the EU-India Strategic Workshop on Climate Change Research needs, bringing together 50 leading climate change experts from Europe and India to discuss this area of extreme importance to both partners. The workshop will identify common research priorities and look at how the Indian and European science funding systems could work together to stimulate joint research.
The final leg of the visit will take place at the Institute of Plasma Research in Ahmedabad, which is co-ordinating India's input to the ITER fusion energy project.
For information on the EU's science and technology co-operation with India: http://www.delind.cec.eu.int/en/stcoop/sthome.htm
For information on the ITER fusion energy project: www.iter.org
Michael H. Wappelhorst, Press and information officer, Research DG
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