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
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
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.
Member of the European Commission
Commissioner for Research