Maria Leptin, Angela Bellia,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning!

I was fortunate to be at ESOF two years ago in Manchester. So it is wonderful to be back.

I’m also delighted to be in France again. I’ve always had a very special relationship with France.

In fact, Toulouse was the first place I ever travelled to outside of Portugal. That was years ago when I was in my early twenties. And that was just the beginning. Eventually I lived and worked here. I got married here. And France is where I’ve made some of my best friends. So I really feel at home here.

But today I want to talk to you about the future. About our new framework programme: Horizon Europe.

Horizon Europe must be more than a science programme; it needs to be the cornerstone for a new ‘social contract’ between citizens, governments and science.

In his book The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau said that the monarchy did not have a natural right to power.

The people had that right. And so only the people are sovereign.

Authority is not just something to be taken. It comes from a social contract agreed by the people.

Today, we need a new social contract between citizens, governments and science.

Science is not about institutions. It is people who build those institutions.

Science is not carried out by governments. Science is the product of the hard work of scientists.

Human beings are the true owners of the results of science. This is what Rousseau said 300 years ago.

That is why we need to redefine the terms of the social contract between people, science and governments. Because science has changed and so have we.

But first, let’s see what has changed.

First of all, connectivity has become a new type of sovereignty.

Parag Khanna has said that we live in a world with 500,000 km of borders and 1 million km of internet cables.

Napoleon said that ‘geography is destiny’, but now, in a digital world that is no longer the case.

As Parag says we have moved on from a world of vertically integrated empires in the nineteenth century, to a world of horizontally interdependent cities in the twentieth century, and to a global network in the twenty-first century.

As Geoff Colvin wrote in his book Humans Are Underrated:

Today, competitive advantage is not driven by the resources you control, but those you can access...The path to success no longer lies in clawing your way to the top of the heap, but in nudging your way to the centre of the network.

Second, the distrust of science.

This constant distrust of science we are witnessing these days is something I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

We saw it in the Brexit campaign, which attacked science and experts. And we are seeing it now as the government of the most powerful country in the world refuses to appoint a Chief Science Advisor.

This kind of game ... confusing what is true and what is not is very dangerous. And so we must act before it’s too late.

As Hannah Arendt wrote in 1967:

The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world (...) is being destroyed.’ We are disregarding ‘the distinguishing line between truth and falsehood.

So each of these things, growing connectivity and a growing distrust in science have changed the name of the game. And that's why our social contract for science has to change.

The question is what will that change look like?

I believe we need a new social contract between citizens, governments and science.

A social contract where citizens and scientists are at the heart of public policies. And where citizens and scientists are co-creators of these policies.  

A social contract that brings people closer to science. Where Europeans feel proud of European Science.

And I want the new Horizon Europe to be a cornerstone in this movement.

We have proposed a budget of 100 billion euro for science and innovation in Horizon Europe. The biggest ever.

And with that 100 billion euro we have three main objectives:

  • Open Science
  • Open Innovation
  • Global Challenges

First, Open Science and Open Innovation. These two pillars are the basis for a social contract where the scientist and the innovator are at the center.

In a digital world, the innovator and scientist are at the heart of policy. So first, we have to boost ‘Open Access’ and ‘Open Data’ policies.

Here our message is simple: if you receive public money, you must publish with open access. We cannot continue to allow people to publish where the only way to access the information is to buy it. One of the main rights of the taxpayer is access to the information. 

Second, we must carry on the success of the European Research Council, that’s why we have increased its budget from €13 billion to € 17 billion. That means it is the largest budget line of the entire Horizon Europe programme.

Third, we must make a radical change when it comes to innovation and that is why we will set up the European Innovation Council. This is where innovators tell us the route they want to take. Not the other way around.

Innovators will be at the heart of the process and so the subjects of our calls will be open and free of restrictions.

We will interview and evaluate the person behind the proposal, and not just the proposal itself.

We will bring in project managers to guide every innovator and to help them in their work.

What I am saying is we want to finance the innovator, and not the innovation.

Open science will be a significant resource for the EIC. So much of the radical innovation we are seeing comes from basic science, especially now. We are seeing the most exciting innovations going back to their basic science roots, like CrispCas9 or blockchain. So the EIC, the ERC and universities will need to work more closely in the future to reinforce each other. And from that we will get stronger science and innovation.

That brings me to the third pillar of the Horizon Europe programme, global challenges.

In the European Union we are very good at defining our challenges. But often we are not able to explain them or to find a solution for them.

That is precisely why we have come up with the idea of missions:

  • To create a link with people.
  • To trace a path to solve problems.

As Mariana Mazzucato says: Innovation and science about speed and direction.

In other words, innovation is velocity. It is speed with direction.

The ‘missions’ will provide this direction.

The scientists will set the speed.

And people will create the social dynamics.

We want to be the first to solve people's problems.

We want people to feel proud of European science.

They often do not know what we have already done in Europe. What we have already achieved.

A few weeks ago I was in Delft, where we have the world's biggest quantum computing centre. This is a big win for Europe because quantum computing will help us solve problems which are impossible to overcome today. Because it starts with the concept that a particle can be both 0 and 1 at the same time. 

But recently, I read in Nature that Chinese scientists have demonstrated for the first time that Einstein’s concept of ‘entanglement’ was correct. Meaning that two particles which are separated by distance will move in precisely the same direction without any point of contact between them whatsoever.

This is an extraordinary leap forward for cybersecurity. So I was amazed to find out that this had been done in Delft before the Chinese scientists did it, and what’s more is in Delft they did it live, unlike in China.

This is why it is important to set up European ‘missions’. To shout about the great science we are doing here in Europe. To bring together all disciplines, including the social sciences and humanities, and to make this connection between people and science.

Let me give you an example that concerns Bertrand Piccard, a friend of mine.

Bertrand was the first person to fly around the world in a solar-powered plane - Solar Impulse - and in the process he made us very proud in Europe.

When he started his adventure two things happened that are a good illustration of the message I want to convey to you.

First, many people told him that what he planned to do was impossible. But he never gave up.

He talked to the world's biggest plane manufacturers and they all told him that the plane would never be able to fly because the solar battery needed would be too heavy.

But, he kept trying.

He went to a friend of his who was a boat-builder. He asked him to build the plane, and he did. And Bertrand says his friend was able to do it because he didn’t know it was impossible.

The second thing that happened was that people told Bertrand he could build a plane and fly it remotely without a pilot. But he knew that if there was no pilot there was no story to be told.

To build a link between science and people we need great stories. And great stories need a protagonist. These protagonists are you. And these stories are the science ‘missions’ that we are going to create.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As Jean Monnet used to say:

Nothing is possible without the citizen. Nothing is sustainable without the institutions.

The future of science will shift the lines of authority of European science and create a new connection between the government, the individual and science. Just as Rousseau said all those years ago.

This is the basis for a new social contract in which all three are at its heart, communicating and building the future together.

We need to do this for our scientists.

And we need to do this for the future of science in Europe.

Thank you.


10 July 2018 - Toulouse, France