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Foreword by Philippe Busquin

In a knowledge-based society, democratic governance must ensure that citizens are able to make an informed choice from the options made available to them by responsible scientific and technological progress.

The latest Eurobarometer published by the Commission indicates the enormous amount of progress that needs to be achieved in this connection: while scientists still enjo  the trust  of  Europeans, only half of the Europeans consulted said that they were interested in science and many of them consider themselves to be poorly informed.

The aim of the European Commission’s Science and Society Action Plan is therefore to pool efforts at European level to develop stronger and more harmonious relations between science and society.

It is at the intersection of three major Community debates.

First of all, it is intended to support the strategic goal set by the European Union in Lisbon of becoming by 2010 the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world.

It is also part of the process of creating the European Research Area, a process set  in motion by the European Commission in January  2000, and follows on  from  the Commission Staff Working  Paper  of  November  2000  on Science, Society and the Citizen in Europe, which launched the debate in this connection.

Thirdly, it is intended to contribute to implementing the White Paper on European Governance and the debate on the future of Europe.

Its objective is to put into practice ideas put forward in these debates concerning the links between science and society. To this end, it proposes 38 actions to be undertaken jointly with Member States, the regional authorities, scientists, policy-makers, businesses and other stakeholders in civil society.

It will cover education, scientific and technological culture, the participation of citizens and civil society in the formulation and implementation of science policies in Europe, and the use of scientific knowledge complying with common ethical rules in the formulation of responsible policies.

As with the creation of the European Research Area, this Action Plan will only have a significant impact if the Member States themselves make joint and coordinated efforts. The Commission, for its part, will act as a catalyst to give a sense of direction and ensure consistency at Community level.

Philippe Busquin
Member of the European Commission
Commissioner for Research

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