Important legal notice
Contact   |   Search   
RTD info logoMagazine on European Research N° 43 - November 2004   
 Reducing congestion on the inflammation highways
 Childhood diets
 Strengthening European research
 Neighbourhood science 
 A growing concern
 Capturing distant worlds on film

Download pdf de en fr

Title  Goodbye, Mr Busquin

Philippe BusquinPhilippe Busquin has completed his mandate as EU Research Commissioner without fuss, in a manner typical of the man.  But behind the unassuming exterior, there lies an impressive tenacity that permitted an extensive renewal of EU science and technology policy. He leaves behind a clear and dynamic strategy, built on the creation of the European Research Area (ERA) and the vital mobilisation of the investment effort needed to achieve the famous R&D investment target of ‘3% of GDP’. Below, various figures who worked with him in discussing, preparing and putting into practice these new foundations for European research pay tribute to a colleague.

David King
David King - Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government and head of the Office of Science and Technology 

" Philippe has made a remarkable impact as European Research Commissioner, despite coming across as a quiet, unassuming and even shy person. By working on the detail and making numerous personal visits to scientists in Europe and the rest of the world, and through his remarkable ability to put across the case for science in Europe, he has raised science to the very top of Europe's political agenda. The incoming Commissioner will inherit a situation for science in Europe which Philippe has left in a very strong state."

José Mariano Gago
José Mariano Gago - Former Portuguese Minister of Science and Technology (1995-2002), responsible for preparing the Lisbon strategy. 

" Philippe Busquin was able to grasp an opportunity: to promote a promising idea and to stand as a major actor in European science policy. He was appointed at the end of a very difficult period. Trust between the scientists and the Commission was at its lowest level. He effectively   reversed the situation. Governments, the scientific community and industrialists listen to him. He has managed to extract a precise objective from the Lisbon Strategy: that of setting aside 3% of GDP for R&D in the EU, and to make this a European goal supported by a large constituency. If the reference to science is today well rooted in the European Constitution, it is because Busquin and his cabinet fought until the last minute. He had the courage to speak in favour of the Sauvons la Recherche movement in France, of Ciencia Viva in Portugal, of the need to create a European Research Council, and of the importance of the involvement of the scientists themselves in European science policy. Thank you, Philippe! "

Daniel Janssen
Daniel Janssen - President of the ERT Competitiveness Working Group and President of the Board of Directors of Solvay SA

" The Barcelona objective (3% of GDP for R&D in 2010) was one of Philippe Busquin’s flagship ideas and made it possible to galvanise European forces in favour of growth and employment – two major qualities of his, a doctor of physics and influential politician. 

As president of the Competitiveness Working Group at the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), I worked with Philippe Busquin and his team on many occasions in putting into place and achieving progress on the ‘3% objective’. I admired his European devotion, his scientific abilities, his social conviction, and his economic realism. Thank you, Philippe, on behalf of the ERT, researchers, and the young people who will have better jobs in an economy of growth and innovation."

Pascoal Mocumbi
Pascoal Mocumbi - Former prime minister of Mozambique and high representative of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)

" I met Philippe Busquin for the first time in Brussels at the round table on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the context of the campaign for poverty reduction. He will remain in my memory as the champion of an innovative approach, through partnerships, to the development of new clinical tools and treatments adapted to the socio-economic conditions of the Southern Hemisphere, particularly Africa. I admired in him the passion for science and political action. He is a hands-on type of leader who goes out into the field and talks with scientists at their laboratories, as he did in the summer of 2003 when he visited Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa."

Luciano Maiani
Luciano Maiani - Professor of theoretical physics at Rome University "La Sapienza" (IT) and director-general of CERN from 1999 to 2003

" Shortly after Philippe Busquin took office in Brussels, I had the opportunity to present CERN to him. I was impressed by his rapid grasp of the general picture, his curiosity for details and his understanding. I remember a passionate discussion, in a small Brussels restaurant, with the Eiroforum members about ITER and the way international funding for such large enterprises could be sustained. The good dinner gave me a lot of … food for thought about the funding for construction of the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which later materialised in a loan given to CERN by the European Investment Bank. In part, the LHC owes its existence to Mr Busquin.  

His vision of a European Research Area made it possible to break with the idea of separate and competing realities (universities, academies, international organisations, funding agencies, etc.). I hope this idea will be pursued and widened by his successor."

Jean-Jacques Dordain
Jean-Jacques Dordain - Director-general of the European Space Agency (ESA)

" It was 3 July 2004, two days after I took up my duties as director-general of the European Space Agency (ESA). I wanted my first visit to be for him. Relations between the ESA and the Commission had deteriorated over recent months but neither of us was interested in going back over the past to apportion blame. We met face-to-face for an hour and then continued to talk over dinner in the company of our closest collaborators. We soon cleared the air.

The adoption of the ESA/European Community framework agreement, the consolidation of joint activities and the launch of new initiatives, the first ‘Space Council’ on 26 November 2004:    none of these would have been possible without Busquin’s drive and commitment. As Commissioner, he provided the necessary impetus for the shared competence in space – for which the Constitutional Treaty made provisions – to become a future reality.  

As a Member of the European Parliament and, I sincerely hope, future president of the ‘Sky and Space’ Intergroup, he will continue to defend this policy of equality prompted by the use of the space tool, thanks to rapid access to information for all people, wherever they may be. Thank you for all that, Mr Commissioner. Thank you, Philippe."

Jean-Marie Lehn
Jean-Marie Lehn - Nobel prizewinner for chemistry and professor at the Collège de France and Strasbourg University (FR)

" We are indebted to Philippe Busquin for having placed research before the organisation of research! Let us hope there is the will and the ability to continue and build on his action."

Axel Kahn
Axel Kahn - Director of the Cochin Institute in Paris (FR) and president of the European Group on Life Sciences (1999-2002)

" Philippe Busquin is convinced of the beauty and legitimacy of scientific research and the progress that can be expected of it in the interests of our common prosperity and well-being. He is also very much aware of the need to give European citizens every means to reappropriate a research and development effort that is dependent upon their commitment and support. 

He believes in the need to move away from the vision of a more or less peaceful coexistence, or even opposition, between science and technology, on the one hand, and society, on the other. Researchers and engineers are part of society and carry out their research on its behalf. It was to help correct any misunderstandings in this field that Busquin set up the European Group on Life Sciences. The initial mandate he gave to this committee and all his subsequent actions bear witness to his desire to promote a brilliant and transparent science able to contribute, at every stage of its development, to society's debates."

Pasquale Pistorio
Pasquale Pistorio - President and CEO, STMicroelectronics

" I was very impressed by Philippe Busquin’s creativity and commitment to building a true European Research Area that serves integrated, Community-wide economic, social and scientific goals. In working with him, I was able to appreciate how his strong scientific background was matched by an awareness of financial issues. 

One of Commissioner Busquin’s most visionary contributions was his early identification of Europe’s need for multinational and multidisciplinary research. This led to the definition of Technology Platforms to drive Europe’s future success in fields as diverse as transportation and nanoelectronics, a sector with which I am directly concerned. His support for the creation of the European Micro and Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council (ENIAC) – which he called on me to lead, together with Information Society and Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen – represents an example of multidisciplinary co-operation to define a strategic agenda by combining public and private players. 

Busquin is both a visionary and a realist. Drawing on the consequences from the Lisbon undertakings, he was instrumental in the Commission’s proposal to double the EU’s research budget. We support this objective and are certain that during his new mandate at the European Parliament he will play a key role in achieving it. I wish him every success. "