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2.3  Research and foresight for society

In view of the complexity of relations between science and society, there is a real need for multidisciplinary research and prospective studies, in order to facilitate not only a better understanding of interactions between science and society, but also to enhance the ability to respond to emerging crises and questions. Given the scale and nature of the issues to be covered, it would clearly be advantageous to proceed at Community level under the auspices of the RTD Framework Programme, including foresight studies by the JRC, or in the form of coordinated action by Member States.

The Commission will address in detail the historical, sociological and philosophical aspects of the development of relations between science and society, drawing on the human, economic and social sciences. Multidisciplinary research will be undertaken at European level and beyond, for example on natural and technological hazards, the effects of the principle of sustainable development(1) , the impacts of the globalisation process or on topical subjects such as the use of science and technology to combat terrorism.

Open coordination of the regional, national and European levels

In addition to research, technological development and demonstration activities implemented under the RTD Framework Programme (including the Joint Research Centre), the coordination of European, national or regional research activities is a powerful tool with which to implement the European Research Area in the field of "science and society"(2) .

Action 28

The Commission will facilitate the coordination of research and foresight exercises at regional, national and European level on issues related to the action plan. This coordination will take the form of forums, seminars for representatives of national ministries on the key issues of "science and society" or networks of centers of excellence.

(1) More particularly with regard to the priorities adopted in the European sustainable development strategy: climate change, public health hazards, poverty and social exclusion, pressure on natural resources, ageing populations, transport bottlenecks and pollution, as well as in areas of capital importance to the economy, social aspects and environmental impacts, such as the industrial sector and related services.

(2) Two expert groups have recently been set up by the Commission to explore issues relating to the strengthening of European foresight cooperation and the networking of regional initiatives and capacities in this area in the context of the European Research Area.

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