Space is a field with potentially enormous implications for society. Maintaining Europe's place, autonomy and scientific and technological excellence in this field is at the centre of a wide-ranging debate initiated by the Commission.
The Mediterranean's delicate health has long been at the centre of European environmental research. The Black Sea has not been ignored either and has been the subject of a number of studies and remedial measures. Now, with the approaching accession of Romania and Bulgaria (planned for 2007), the European Union will land itself an extensive shoreline along this landlocked sea, which is in a particularly critical state. The IASON initiative, launched in the spring of 2003 at a major scientific conference under the Greek presidency, aims to set up transnational and multidisciplinary co-operation networks to treat and protect these two crucially important maritime basins.
The role of the many and varied bacteria which inhabit the digestive system is coming to be seen as a major factor in human health – despite the relatively little we know about them. It is also giving rise to so-called 'probiotic foods' with their potentially beneficial effects on the immune system.
Internationally recognised as a pioneer and one of the world's leading experts in molecular genetics, Leena Peltonen owes her vocation – and success – to her family background and country of origin. Her fascination with the 'innate' and the 'acquired' in determining the health of every individual led her to base her scientific investigations on the unique and isolated genetic pool of her native Finland.
Some 100 000 Europeans currently take part in car sharing schemes, a system which gives access to an automobile at any time without the hassle of ownership. As part of its research into mobility, the European Union is supporting efforts by the MOSES project to coordinate the technological and organisational solutions essential to this transport revolution.