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RTD info logoMagazine on European Research N° 43 - November 2004   
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 HOME
 TABLE OF CONTENTS
 EDITORIAL
 Goodbye, Mr Busquin
 Reducing congestion on the inflammation highways
 Childhood diets
 Strengthening European research
 Neighbourhood science 
 A growing concern
 Capturing distant worlds on film
 COMMUNICATING SCIENCE
 IN BRIEF
 PUBLICATIONS
 AGENDA
 CALLS FOR PROPOSALS

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Incommunicable Europe?

One of the first acts of incoming Commission President José Manuel Barroso – even before taking office – was to create the post of Commissioner responsible for communication. 

Although it has been widely welcomed, this initiative is certainly not the end of the story. When it comes to communication, responsibility must be collective. 

The reality is that public forums for genuine communication are rare in our information society. They are notably absent from the media, schools, and public and private organisations of all kinds.

Meanwhile, those in charge say it is not their responsibility. In this, they are very wrong: strictly speaking, Europe belongs to nobody and to everybody. With the internet, information has taken priority over communication. The electronic networks are awash with documents, presentations and speeches. But not enough time and space is available for communication. 

The same could no doubt be said of science. Where are the public domains for communication? Where are the public communication forums? Admittedly, scientists are increasingly speaking to citizens. In some cases, the layman is able to address and even understand the man of science. But while scientists may be ready to listen to citizens, they rarely hear what they are saying. That is because there is more to communication than a stream of information, sometimes flowing in one direction and sometimes in the other.

Communication implies mutually enriching messages and the forging of a genuine relationship.

In this respect, the few successful communication experiences are no doubt public consultations, such as the consensus conferences, scenario workshops and the discussions of proposals organised in a growing number of countries. Given that communicating on the subjects of science and of Europe are notoriously difficult tasks, can we really speak of communication on European research? Are the messages getting across? In both directions?

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