Commission seeks end to EU-27 ‘research labyrinth’

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The EU executive is calling on member states to take seriously its recent call for joint priority-setting and joint action on science and research policy and implement a coherent EU framework for scientific cooperation with non-EU countries if it is to remain a leading actor, particularly in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT).

“Our international partners are attracted by Europe as a model of regional integration, but they are faced with a multitude of governmental actors and research priorities when they want to engage in concrete cooperation,” said Science and Research Commissioner Janez Poto?nik, presenting a Commission proposal for an EU framework for international scientific cooperation on 24 September.

According to Poto?nik, the EU 27 need to get their act together and “transform Europe’s research labyrinth into a European Research Area [ERA] open to the world, attracting the best brains and contributing to address global challenges”.

Indeed, the absence of a common strategy at European level “has led to duplication of effort and often a waste of resources”. 

The overall aim of the proposal is to encourage EU countries to work together with the Commission to identify and agree on joint scientific cooperation activities with partners in important third countries. Brussels stressed key partners would be those with whom cooperation brings “clear added value for Europe in addressing key global challenges” and promoting both EU policy goals and global sustainable development. 

The proposed strategic framework particularly highlights the need to strengthen cooperation with non-EU countries in the area of information and communication technologies (ICT), a sector in which Europe is already considered a strong exporter. 

If Europe wants to maintain its leading position on ICT research and development, “we need to find the most efficient way to collaborate within the EU and to transform our willingness to cooperate with our partners worldwide in acts while targeting our priorities,” argued Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding. 

The communication is the last of the Commission’s five policy initiatives aimed at giving fresh impetus to the creation of a true single market for research and innovation in Europe. It also represents, according to the EU executive, an extra step towards the creation of the “fifth freedom” by removing barriers to the free movement of knowledge.

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