New Member States impress workshop participants
The CALM workshop in Budapest on 13 September 2006 gathered a range of participants working to reduce transport-related noise. Among those attending were researchers from the EU’s New Member States (NMSs), all of whom confirmed a growing determination to become full partners in the European Research Area (ERA).
EU Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik has already expressed the Union’s commitment to involving and supporting the New Member States as they continue the process of restructuring and integration within the ERA. The ultimate goal is to turn knowledge into real benefits for citizens while increasing Europe’s competitiveness and commercial success, but for Europe’s newest members, this still means overcoming some serious challenges.
“We saw an enormous dip in the amount of research being carried out in our country after the political transformation of the end of the 1980s,” explained Miklos Szoboszlay of Hungary’s Ministry of Economy and Transport. Speaking at the CALM workshop in Budapest, he continued, “Meanwhile, the number of vehicles on our roads and in our cities has continued to increase constantly. We are now working our way back from that low point, enforcing new noise limits and restrictions that will bring us into line with the other Member States.“
Szoboszlay was just one of the delegates to describe the unique challenges faced by NMSs in tackling environmental issues. “Transport noise is one of the major environmental challenges we face,” said Frigyes Reis of Budapest University, “but as of today, in Hungary, we still do not have an official national noise strategy in place. The work of the researchers is just one element; the legislative challenge is equally great.”
Bojan Leben of ZAG in Slovenia said, “Simple things like differences in language are still a problem for us. But even more fundamental are our historic and political structural differences. Harmonisation on many levels is still a priority.” Leben went on to describe significant ongoing efforts to reduce environmental noise in Slovenia.
Moving forward together
Piotr Mioduszewski of the Technical University of Gdansk (TUG) in Poland described a wide-ranging monitoring and measurement programme being carried out at his institute. Poland is one of the most advanced New Member States in terms of its level of participation in EU-funded research. TUG is already involved in several projects that deal with transport-related noise, including HARMONOISE, HARMONOISE and IMAGINE.
Fueloep Augusztinovicz of Budapest University added key advice to would-be EU researchers. “You have to be at the cutting edge of something to participate in FP7,” he said. “Having good personal contacts is another factor, but your unique knowledge and your ability to contribute will ultimately make the difference. For the more established Member States,” he added, “the NMSs represent a still underexploited resource, with lots of fresh ideas and, let’s face it, a cheaper labour force.”